After bending to Apple, adult ‘app market’ MiKandi awaits outcome of trademark fight

Microsoft and Amazon.com aren’t the only companies hoping to see Apple stumble in its attempt to trademark the phrase “app store.” Seattle-based MiKandi.com, which operates an adult app store for Android devices, was forced to start using the phrase “app market” in its tag line after Apple served the company with cease-and-desist papers earlier this year over its previous use of the phrase “app store.”

“App market” doesn’t have quite the same ring, as noted by MiKandi co-founder Jen McEwen today.

That makes this week’s initial ruling against Apple in its trademark dispute with Amazon.com good news for MiKandi, as well. In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton rejected Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction against Amazon over the Seattle retailer’s Android “Appstore.”

Jen McEwen

“The evidence does show that Apple has spent a great deal of money on advertising and publicity, and has sold/provided/furnished a large number of apps from its AppStore, and the evidence also reflects actual recognition of the ‘App Store’ mark,” the judge wrote. “However, there is also evidence that the term ‘app store’ is used by other companies as a descriptive term for a place to obtain software applications for mobile devices.”

One of those was MiKandi, until a couple months ago.

“We decided to re-bill ourselves as the MiKandi App Market to get out of Apple’s crosshairs,” McEwen explained via email this morning. “The bottom line was that our pockets are not deep enough to defend ourselves should Apple go after us. So we made the change a few months ago, shortly after the news of the C&D (cease and desist) went public. The ironic thing is we’re known as the porn app store because of Steve Jobs.”

The Apple CEO last year critcized the existence of a “porn store” on the Android platform, alluding to MiKandi without mentioning it by name — resulting in a bonanza of publicity for the MiKandi service.

Along those lines, McEwen pointed out the positive side of the trademark dispute: “Actually maybe Apple has a soft spot for us,” she wrote. “Their CEO was our top promoter last year, and they only sent us a C&D, but they sued Amazon for infringement. :)”

The judge’s ruling yesterday in the Amazon suit is not the end of the case, which will now continue to trial unless there’s a settlement between Apple and Amazon in the meantime. However, it’s a setback for Apple in the broader battle over the term, which also includes a separate challenge by Microsoft before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.