Dell's efforts to trademark the term "cloud computing" for the company's own use has been rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
In a ruling posted on the trademark office's Web site Aug. 12, the agency rejected Dell's application to trademark the term "cloud computing." The ruling reverses a previous finding by the patent and trademark office that appeared to give Dell legal rights to the "cloud computing" trademark.
In rejecting Dell's applications this time, the patent and trademark office wrote that the term "cloud computing" is generic and could apply to any number of services and products that are being developed for IT infrastructures.
"In addition to being merely descriptive, the applied-for mark appears to be generic in connection with the identified services and, therefore, incapable of functioning as a source-identifier for applicant's services," according to the trademark office's finding.
The concept of cloud computing has potential for enterprise companies and those businesses involved in Web 2.0 commerce. While a good working model of the cloud is years away, the concept is to make large-scale computing more efficient by allowing an enterprise to offload some or all of its IT infrastructure to a hosting provider and then allowing it to draw on applications and computing on demand through the Internet.
In addition to Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and a number of IT vendors have begun offering cloud services and hardware to build these cloud data centers. Other Web 2.0 vendors, including Google, Amazon and Yahoo, are all building cloud computing data centers as part of their business.
Dell had originally applied to trademark the phrase "cloud computing" in March 2007. The process had been ongoing for about 18 months; the trademark office published Dell's application in March, and a notice of allowance, which is the final step before a trademark is granted, followed in July. The issue went unnoticed until earlier the week of Aug. 4, when several blogs and articles noted Dell's application.
It's not clear if Dell will appeal the decision. The trademark office did note that Dell could appeal the ruling and provide additional evidence that shows that the company has rights to trademark the term.