Judge orders Apple, Amazon to settlement talks on App Store dispute

A judge in California has ordered the two companies to try to work out their differences over Amazon's use of the name 'Appstore'

A federal judge in California has ordered Apple and Amazon.com to sit down and attempt to settle a lawsuit between them over Amazon's use of the "Appstore" name for its online application marketplace.

U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Laporte told both parties on Tuesday that they must attempt to reach a settlement ahead of their next scheduled appearance in court on March 21.

Apple sued Amazon.com on March 18, 2011, over use of the "Appstore" name, just four days before Amazon launched its "Appstore for Android."

Apple had previously requested Amazon.com not use the name, which Apple contends is too similar to its own "App Store" for iOS applications. Apple launched its App Store in 2008.

Laporte told each company to deliver to her a confidential settlement conference statement by March 11. The statements should spell out claims and defenses, a summary of the case, costs incurred and details on what each party is seeking, she said.

The statement should also include "the party's position on settlement, including present demands and offers and a history of past settlement discussions."

The documents from both sides will be delivered directly to the judge and won't be lodged with the court clerk or the opposing parties, Laporte instructed.

"If there have been no prior settlement discussions, plaintiff must serve a demand letter outlining its theories for recovery, supporting facts and damages in writing at least 7 business days before the conference, and defendant must respond in writing at least 3 days before the conference," Laporte wrote.

"It is not unusual for conferences to last several hours or at times, all day," Laporte wrote. "No participant in the settlement conference will be permitted to leave the settlement conference before it is concluded without the permission of the judge."

Apple alleges six causes of action for the lawsuit: trademark infringement and dilution under the Lanham Act, common law trademark infringement, dilution under the California Business and Professions Code, unfair competition and false advertising.

Earlier in January, Amazon won a favorable ruling on one of Apple's complaints when U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton ruled that Amazon did not mislead consumers by using the "Appstore" name.

Hamilton said use of the "Appstore" name for an online application store did not necessarily mean the store was of the same nature and offered the same quality as Apple's App Store.

"Apple has failed to establish that Amazon made any false statement (express or implied) of fact that actually deceived or had the tendency to deceive a substantial segment of its audience," Hamilton wrote in her judgment.

The case is Apple vs. Amazon.com, 11-01327, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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