Apple Sued Over iCloud Moniker
It's been just over a week since Apple's announcement of iCloud-the company's upcoming cloud services offering designed to compete with Google and Amazon-and already the lawsuits are being filed. iCloud Communications, a VOIP (voice over IP) specialist, filed suit against Apple, claiming trademark infringement over the name.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, monetary relief and attorneys' fees stemming from a violation of Arizona state trademark infringement, unfair competition and injury to business reputation.
iCloud Communications was formed in 2005 and is a provider of, among other cloud computing products and services, computer telephony (telecommunication) hardware and software for the electronic transmission of email, text, audio, video, photos, information, data, video conferencing, virtual video conferencing and other content via the Internet and wireless data networks.
A press release issued by Apple along with CEO Steve Job's public announcement at the June 6 Worldwide Developers Conference describes Apple's vision for its "iCloud" platform. Among other things, the press release states that Apple's iCloud will "wirelessly store your content in iCloud and automatically and wirelessly push it to all your devices." It further states that the iCloud platform will wirelessly transmit and store at its data center email, text, audio, video, photos and other data.
The filing claims Apple's iCloud offering is inherently similar to some of the services iCloud Communications provides. "The goods and services with which Apple intends to use the 'iCloud' mark are identical to or closely related to the goods and services that have been offered by iCloud Communications under the iCloud Marks since its formation in 2005," the suit reads. "However, due to the worldwide media coverage given to and generated by Apple's announcement of its 'iCloud' services and the ensuing saturation advertising campaign pursued by Apple, the media and the general public have quickly come to associate the mark 'iCloud' with Apple, rather than iCloud Communications."
The suit also notes that although Apple aggressively protects its trademark rights, the company has a long and well-known history of knowingly and willfully treading on the trademark rights of others-a history that began as early as the 1970s when Apple was first sued for trademark infringement by the Beatles record label, Apple Corp. Although the case was settled on the condition that Apple not enter into the music business, Apple entered into the music business in the 1990s and was sued again.
Broadly, iCloud would include Web-based digital book and movie services that consumers may sync via Apple Mac desktop computers and laptops, as well as the iOS-based iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Web-based email also is alleged to be in the iCloud mix to replace the unpopular MobileMe service.