Dell "Cloud Computing" trademark cancelled

August 8, 2008 // 11:40 a.m.

Tags: #cloud-computing #dell #patent #trademark #troll #uspto

Dell is a company well known for many things – some good, some bad – but I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be referring to the box shifter as a patent troll.

Nevertheless, that seems to be the only logical conclusion following the company's filing of a request for the right to claim a trademark on the term “cloud computing”, a piece of jargon usually used to refer to shared-load net-connected web appliance infrastructure like Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud and Simple Storage Service or Google's Apps repository. That is, Dell isn't trying to get a patent on a technology related to cloud computing, but the two words “cloud computing” when used in the context of technology. For a while, it even looked like it might succeed.

The good news is that, like predecessor Netcentric which also tried and failed to secure the term back in 1998, the US Patents & Trademarks Office has told Dell where it can stick its cheeky appropriation of a common term. The not so good news is that it took almost eighteen months for someone at USPTO to actually realise not only that the whole thing was a ridiculous idea but that it was a duplicate of an already rejected notion.

IT World reports that the USPTO has cancelled the Notice of Allowance (a legal document basically allowing a company to act as though the trademark were already granted) given to Dell for the cloud computing trademark after its application way back in early 2007, and that the issue has been bumped back for further examination by the Office. A sensible decision, but you have to wonder why it took eighteen months – and a not-inconsiderable public outcry – to reach.

Without the trademark, Dell will just have to console itself with the ownership of the CloudComputing.com domain, which it uses to sell its solutions for what it quaintly terms “the Hyper-Scale Environment.”

Do you believe Dell deserves a trademark on the term cloud computing, or are there other companies that have done more to further the cause in your eyes? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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