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Cloud Trademarks

Dell Denied: ‘Cloud Computing’ both desciptive and generic

USPTO have already denied Dell’s cloud computing trademark application:

A non-final action has been mailed. This is a letter from the examining attorney requesting additional information and/or making an initial refusal. However, no final determination as to the registrability of the mark has been made.

This all sounds fairly harmless but the argument presented is solid – its no wonder it’s taken them a few days to put together.

First they’ve argued that ‘the applied-for mark merely describes a feature and characteristic of applicant’s services’. A mark is merely descriptive if it describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose or use of the specified services. That is, ‘cloud computing’ simply describes a type of computing in the same way that ‘yellow bananas’ describes a (common) type of banana.

Furthermore, they have declared ‘cloud computing’ generic, in that it is ‘incapable of functioning as a source-identifier for applicant’s services’. This makes sense given that few of us think ‘Dell’ when we think of ‘cloud computing’, even in this context.

This is good news for cloud computing in general, and proof that the term is taking hold. It will be interesting to see if Dell continue flogging this particular dead horse, or get on with building the hardware that will power the next generation of computing.

By Sam Johnston

Sam Johnston CMgr FIML GAICD MACS Snr CP is an Australian technology executive and serial entrepreneur with over 20 years experience founding and advising startups, and in leadership roles at top global technology companies including Citrix, Google, and Equinix.

Sam is currently the director of labs at DXC Technology, whose mission is to ensure the company is fully equipped with the emerging digital technologies it needs to lead clients through accelerating change, including drones, robotics & humanoids, 3D printing, computer vision & voice, augmented & virtual reality, artificial intelligence & machine learning, blockchain, chatbots, and quantum computing.

Sam has a bachelor of computer science degree from the University of New South Wales, and is based in Singapore, having worked in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the USA.