Will Dell Remove Its Head from the Cloud?

    August 19, 2008
    Chris Crum

Dell thought they could take the phrase "cloud computing" and keep it for themselves. It appears (for the time being at least) that they will have no such luck.

The company filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to trademark the term, but its request has ultimately been denied because it has been established as a generic term.

Those in the technology industry are aware of this, but the USPTO only recently discovered how widely the phrase is used. That’s why they let Dell get several steps into the trademarking process before pulling the rug out from under them.

It has come to the USPTO’s proverbial light that many companies and individuals are saying it too. Could the blogosphere have played a role in keeping "cloud computing" generic?

"Probably the examining attorney did not suspect that this was a generic term, so he or she didn’t search for it" a lawyer told E-Commerce Times regarding the USPTO’s reluctance to deny Dell’s request from the start.

Wikipedia offers the following definition for Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing means Internet (‘Cloud’) based development and use of computer technology (‘Computing’). It is a style of computing where IT-related capabilities are provided "as a service", allowing users to access technology-enabled services "in the cloud" without knowledge of, expertise with, or control over the technology infrastructure that supports them.

The entry goes on to name innovators in cloud computing such as Amazon, Google, Yahoo!, Salesforce, HP, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft.

Interestingly enough, Dell is not even mentioned other than a small blurb at the bottom about the aforementioned trademark issue.

The company says that it is still considering it’s next course of action. They still have an opportunity to win the trademark if they can provide a valid argument to the USPTO, but Dell probably shouldn’t hold its breath on this one.