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Apple Sued Over Use of iCloud Name 394

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-i's-have-it dept.
tekgoblin writes "iCloud Communications is suing Apple for the use of the iCloud name which they have the rights to. According to the lawsuit: '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. 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.'"
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Apple Sued Over Use of iCloud Name

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  • by namgge (777284) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @01:28PM (#36419002)
    Do they not realise that Apple own the letter 'i'?
    • Re:The fools... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by chill (34294) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @01:36PM (#36419056) Journal

      That'd be fun. Sesame Street as prior art!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What I don't get is the fact that Apple currently owns the iCloud trademark. iCloud Communications does not have any filed trademark. Maybe I just am not getting it, but if someone is claiming Trademark infringement, don't they actually need to have *a* trademark?

      • by improfane (855034) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @03:51PM (#36419622) Journal

        Legality aside, you would think that if they had been using a name legally for 6 years, they have a right to keep using it.

        Something is broken if a larger company can buy a trademark of a smaller company and claim ownership and prevent the smaller company from using it.

        Of course the legal system is not designed for common courtesy or justice, it's for rent seeking legal professionals.

      • Re:The fools... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @04:10PM (#36419760)

        Just so you know, you do not have to file in order to receive a trademark.

      • No, iCloud Communications can dispute the trademark by showing they were using the term first. I think they have up to 8 years to dispute. Look at the "Lennon" trademark fiasco a few years ago. Some unknown singer whose first name was Lennon tried to trademark the name and Yoko Ono had to snatch it from her at the last minute after seeing how she had manipulated the system. Yoko had not filed for a trademark previously but was able to take it since the Lennon name had been around longer than the singer...

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        No.
        Like copyright, you don't need to register a trademark, it just makes it a lot easier to defend in court if you do.

    • by aapold (753705) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @02:35PM (#36419502) Homepage Journal
      That is what this whole gulf war was really about.
      • I heard iRan is already renamed to Persia .

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          In all seriousness is this why Americans always pronounce the 'I' in Iran and Iraq as 'eye' rather than 'e'? Not Apple trademark claims, but their love of sticking and 'i' in front of random words and pronouncing it as if it were completely separate.

          I remember when the Wii came out and a lot of people seemed to think it was pronounced 'why'. Why is it only the letter 'I', why not Aye-merica or Jay-pan? Or am I expecting too much in the way of rules from what seemes to have been a natural change in American

    • by coolmadsi (823103)

      Do they not realise that Apple own the letter 'i'?

      They do? Someone had better tell the BBC [bbc.co.uk] the bad news...

      • by improfane (855034)

        Easy, society has shortened words in this fashion for generations*. You could call it a portmanteau but with only the first letter taken.

        You can easily claim that iplayer is short for 'internet player'. Email is electronic and mail. Blog is web and log.

        I don't know the name of the process of a single-letter portemantaeu. *I can't think of any before the internet age but then I've not been alive that long and it's most likely we've forgotten the affixes through time. That is the beauty of the birth of two ne

        • *I can't think of any before the internet age but then I've not been alive that long and it's most likely we've forgotten the affixes through time. That is the beauty of the birth of two new words.

          ACME. -tron. -ism. All being born way, WAY before Internet came to be.

    • by arisvega (1414195)
      Of course they do. They have been waiting for this since their formation, in 2005.
  • I could swear I've read this story before...

    I'm not an especially strong Apple hater, but haven't there been other stories on slashdot about Apple blatantly rolling over other companies copyrights or trademarks for names and concepts that sound similar to potential Apple products?
    • Re:Happened before? (Score:5, Informative)

      by sentientbeing (688713) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @01:38PM (#36419078)
      Apple Music. The Beatles label.
      • The Beatles company was Apple Records, a subsidiary of Apple Corps. They never had or were affiliated with a company called Apple Music.
    • You did hear this before - the iPhone was a similar situation, with Apple launching and Cisco already owning a product called the iPhone. They settled it amicably (in other words, Apple bought Cisco off).

      • by Arker (91948)

        Did Apple pay them off separately for ios?

        That one is particularly annoying, as it has been around for a very long time and well established, and now we have all these technical illiterates that would never be able to configure a router running around gushing about ios. WTF?

        • by NNKK (218503)

          iOS was probably dealt with as part of the same deal. It's also not really that annoying -- only a relatively small portion of even the technically-inclined population has any clue what Cisco IOS is, and context suffices to disambiguate. It's not even a significant search problem -- if "IOS" plus other relevant keywords aren't getting the right thing, throw in "cisco" or a model number and you're pretty sure to get what you're after.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      You're probably thinking of the iPhone, as there was a VoIP device that went under that very name at the time the iPhone was announced.

  • Before you answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @01:34PM (#36419052) Homepage

    please also consider what you would have said if Apple had been selling a product for the last 5-6 years, and somebody now came along and bought a website, and claimed that it now owned that trademark.

    The analogue is in somebody buying ipad.com (which AFAIK Apple doesn't own). Just because Apple bought icloud.com doesn't give them a trademark, otherwise the trademark system should just be shut down in favor of the domain name system.

    • The analogue is in somebody buying ipad.com (which AFAIK Apple doesn't own). Just because Apple bought icloud.com doesn't give them a trademark, otherwise the trademark system should just be shut down in favor of the domain name system.

      True, buying iCloud.com doesn't give Apple a trademark. Buying the iCloud trademark from the proper owner for $4.5 million however gives Apple the trademark.

    • by Tharsman (1364603)
      One gotcha though: if you dont defend a trademark you loose it. The previous owner of iCloud.com also called itself so for a long time, yet they were never pursued over the trademark. That is enough basis to make them loose their right to the TM, as far as I know (but IANAL).
  • by symbolic (11752) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @01:38PM (#36419076)

    I hope Apple gets spanked for this. It was their lack of due diligence, and even if Apple was aware of this other company, it chose to engage this "Imma show you whose boss" mentality. Apple decided to play the game, so too damn bad if they lose.

    • Apple could just make up a name and make is stick - how about synchole - marketing would be a snap "just toss all of your digital data in our synchole!"
    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @02:34PM (#36419498)
      Not according to business insider [businessinsider.com]. There are only two applications for the "iCloud" name. One belongs to an individual. The other belonged to Xcerion. Apple bought the domain iCloud.com and the trademark from Xcerion a while ago. iCloud Communications has never filed for any trademarks to "iCloud" or even "iCloud Communications".
    • by ktappe (747125)

      I hope Apple gets spanked for this. It was their lack of due diligence, and even if Apple was aware of this other company, it chose to engage this "Imma show you whose boss" mentality. Apple decided to play the game, so too damn bad if they lose.

      It is hard to believe that you actually think Apple didn't perform due diligence on such a huge product announcement.

  • by Space cowboy (13680) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @01:38PM (#36419082) Journal
    Reading fortune's [cnn.com] coverage, it seems there was no record of cloud communications having a trademark. Is this another instance of suing someone just because they have cash, I wonder...

    And maybe it's just my innate cynicism showing through, but when anyone introduces criticism of anything by saying "I can honestly say...", it leads me to believe they are inherently biased against the thing they're complaining about, and whatever they say ought to be treated appropriately. What they're really saying is "even though I in fact loath the thought of (insert XXX), I would still be criticizing them if I were neutral on the matter". Bias, like truth, will out.

    Simon
    • Trademarks don't have to be registered, it just helps in some circumstances.

      • by Space cowboy (13680) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @01:57PM (#36419236) Journal
        But if you do want to assert the right of a trademark, you have to defend it. Why, in that case, did they not defend their name against he previous owners of the cloud domain ? Again, I think they're just out to make some quick cash at Apple's expense.

        Simon
        • Maybe, like myself, they've never heard of the previous owners of the domain.
          It may have only come to their attention when Apple started their eleventy billion dollar marketing campaign on the matter.

          • So, this is an excuse for *them*, but not for Apple ? I mean, who had heard of this obscure VOIP company before now ? That VOIP company that never trademarked anything or held the domain name ...

            Simon
        • Why, in that case, did they not defend their name against he previous owners of the cloud domain ?

          I have the same exact situation with my own company. I own the .net analogue of my company's name, and someone owns the .com. They've owned the .com for several years, and have a 10-year registration according to GoDaddy. The site currently doesn't do anything - it doesn't resolve at all.

          The best thing to do in this case is not to approach the person, but establish yourself and make the name worth something. Then, the cybersquatter will attempt to monetize the name and hopefully do something which can b

  • by Cinder6 (894572) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @01:38PM (#36419084)

    Just checked out iCloud Communications' website (http://geticloud.com/)... From the looks of the front page, at least, they're in the VoIP market. How is that related to Apple's iCloud? (I would actually be happy if Apple had to ditch the iCloud name, but it won't happen. It would be nice to see them move away from iWhatever; it was annoying when they introduced the first iMac, and it's annoying now.)

    • by msauve (701917)
      " they're in the VoIP market. How is that related to Apple's iCloud?"

      They're Internet services. Duh.
    • by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @02:41PM (#36419534)

      From the looks of the front page, at least, they're in the VoIP market. How is that related to Apple's iCloud?

      Because if you click on the link in the upper right-hand corner labeled "Data Center Web Site" you discover they offer a whole lot more than VoIP. From within that area:

      "Founded in 1985, iCloud Communications is an established business run by a seasoned management team. We've built a distinguished track record in network technologies and infrastructure operations. Our data center solutions provide a range of colocation, hosting and technical support services to telephony service provider and small-to-mid-sized enterprise customers."

  • Seriously, how did Apple not know about it? Doing a trademark search is simple - it's almost as easy as Googling it, once you find the search site. Half an hour's work could have thoroughly checked for anyone using that name - did nobody at Apple think to do so?
    • by jklovanc (1603149) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @02:01PM (#36419258)

      The only currently registered trademark is this one. http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4007:67i706.2.13 [uspto.gov]

      It seems that iCloud Communications did not register the trademark.

      Apple has 100 applications in to the USPTO right now for iCloud

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        sorry, I meant Apple has 11 applications

      • by gman003 (1693318)
        Huh. So it seems pretty obvious, then, that "iCloud Communications" doesn't really have a leg to stand on. The only thing you can sue for with an unregistered trademark is "passing off", if Apple were trying to advertise their service/product as being provided by iCloud Communications without it actually being so. Since that's not the case, as far as I can tell, the case will probably be swiftly dismissed.
    • Actually from what I read these guys never actually registered the trademark.

      Apple searched and bought the trademark from Xcerion, who actually did register it.

    • by TimHunter (174406) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @02:12PM (#36419342)

      Of course they did. Probably some junior intern in the Legal department did the search and reported his findings to his boss. That boss commissioned a legal secretary to find out what iCloud Communications is and draft a memo. Then he gave the memo to his boss. That boss sat in one or meetings with senior legal staff where one of the items on the agenda was iCloud Communications. Based on the memo, and perhaps a phone call or two to iCloud Communications, the senior legal staff figured that paying off (I mean, negotiating a settlement with) iCloud Communications would be cheaper than getting the rights up front and so decided to go ahead and start using the iCloud name.

      After all, Steve wanted to use the iCloud name and it was their job to make it happen. Apple can, if necessary, throw a few hundred thousand at iCloud Communications. That's chicken feed in the whole iCloud thing.

      Let me be clear: I'm not saying this is evil or anything like that. It's just how things work. Any settlement with iCloud Communications will be just a part (and a negligible part, at that) of the cost of doing iCloud business.

      • Except that iCloud Communications has never applied for the trademark. That makes it hard for them to defend a trademark they don't own. iCloud Communications has never even applied for a trademark for their own name.
  • Whereas the name iCloud was meant to sound like an Apple product? Anything named in that way is being named to make people connect it with Apple.

    I think Apple should be more careful but this is obviously a case where both sides contributed to the problem.

  • USPTO (Score:4, Informative)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @01:54PM (#36419216)

    I guess iCloud Communications should be introduced to the USPTO. I did a quick search on the trademark iCloud and came up with 12 filed by Apple and one owned by Xcerion AB CORPORATION SWEDEN (registered in 2010). If you want to protect a trademark then register it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by frozentier (1542099)

      I guess iCloud Communications should be introduced to the USPTO. I did a quick search on the trademark iCloud and came up with 12 filed by Apple and one owned by Xcerion AB CORPORATION SWEDEN (registered in 2010). If you want to protect a trademark then register it.

      You don't have to trademark it, you just have to prove you used it first. It's the same thing with copyrights.

      • Re:USPTO (Score:5, Insightful)

        by topham (32406) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @02:13PM (#36419346) Homepage

        Failure to file for a trademark will doom you in court 9 times out of 10, particularly if it can be shown your trademark already overlapped in the market in question. Which in this case it seems to have overlapped with multiple players. oops.

        This isn't about a local company using a name for 30 years and having a national, or multination company move in.

        • by cob666 (656740)
          But was Xcerion actually doing business under that trademark in the same field that Apple purchased the trademark to use in? It could very well be that Xcerion wasn't overlapping in the market.
      • by dcollins (135727)

        Possibly you mean "you don't have to register the trademark".

  • by Ghiora (1004216) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @02:01PM (#36419266)
    Rainbow Cloud (RCloud) Jessy Jackson will sue them. Singing Cloud (SCloud ) Music Cloud (MCloud . ) McLoud public schools will sue them FCloud (FriendCloud) GCloud No Cloud (NCloud) I hereby copyright all permutations on non used [a-zA-Z0-9]*Cloud.
  • using the letter "i" before any name or trademark, too late now...
    • by hipp5 (1635263)
      IIRC they tried. Or at least there was a point where they were suing anyone who used iObjectname. (Again, IIRC) Apple lost.
  • Currently that domain redirects to apple. If this company was serious about their name I don't know why they didn't spend the extra $100 (or less depending on registrar) to register the .com domain.
  • Get off of iCloud!

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @05:08PM (#36420088)

    Below are some useful phrases that I have learnt on Slashdot over the past year or so that will help you translate Fanboi-speak to English, and vice-versa:

    English: iCloud sues Apple over iCloud name usage.
    Fanboi-speak: It's iCloud's fault for not registering the name properly.

    English: Apple sues iCloud over iCloud name usage.
    Fanboi-speak: It's iCloud's fault for not registering the name properly.

    English: Steve Jobs kills puppies.
    Fanboi-speak: Steve Jobs takes positive steps on problems of dog littering and potential spread of rabies.

    English: Steve Ballmer kills puppies.
    Fanboi-speak: Steve Ballmer kills puppies due to anger at number of viruses in Windows.

    English: iPhone 4 has antenna problems.
    Fanboi-speak: iPhone 4 has enhanced "Do Not Call" and privacy features and less viruses than Windows.

    English: Android outsells iOS.
    Fanboi-speak: Did you count the iPod Touch?

    English: The iPad is too expensive.
    Fanboi-speak: The iPad is no more expensive than a reasonable laptop computer.

    English: The iPad is too locked down.
    Fanboi-speak: The iPad is not designed to replace a reasonable laptop computer.
     

    • by Karlt1 (231423) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @06:04PM (#36420308)

      English: Android outsells iOS.
      Fanboi-speak: Did you count the iPod Touch?

      Android is an operating system. iOS is an operating system. What's the problem of comparing the number of devices that are sold with each operating system installed?

      English: The iPad is too expensive.
      Fanboi-speak: The iPad is no more expensive than a reasonable laptop computer.

      In a capitalist society, a product that is "too expensive" if it doesn't sell. The iPad sells well. By definition, it isn't too expensive.

  • by waddgodd (34934) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @06:26PM (#36420492) Homepage Journal

    Naivete about trademarks [check] (A trademark need not be registered to be enforceable, just clearly marked)
    Apple fanbois saying that apple can do no wrong [check]
    Apple anti-fanbois saying apple can do no right [check]
    GNUtards expressing blanket anti-IP sentiments [check]

    My take:

    Apple is clearly not a historical good player, where it comes to the blatant co-opting of trademarks, case in point: OS9 vice MacOS9 (OS9 is a trademark of microware for a TRS-80C operating system, built for the 6809 chipset), the iphone/ios thing (the only reason any settlement at all was proposed was IOS was so entrenched that Apple was guaranteed a court loss), and many other trademarks Apple just steamrolled without checking. I suspect they didn't do due diligence at all, just because it seems that they never have before. I submit that the first "look and feel" lawsuits that Apple started were naught but an extension of this, given that the look and feel that apple was litigating was actually developed by Xerox at PARC, which both Microsoft and Apple liberally ripped off. While I doubt iCloud was much more than a shell company built as a IP landmine, Apple has yet to prove that their due diligence is much more than asking around the offices at Cupertino if anyone's ever heard of a given name. I predict that unless iCloud finds some deep pockets (I heard that there's a few deep pockets around that don't like Apple, some in Redmond), Apple will just keep raising the ante until iCloud's basically forced to settle.

    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:11PM (#36420800)

      OS9 vice MacOS9 (OS9 is a trademark of microware for a TRS-80C operating system, built for the 6809 chipset),

      You didn't mention that Apple won that case in court as separate trademarks can exist for unrelated applications of the same mark.

      I suspect they didn't do due diligence at all, just because it seems that they never have before.

      On April 28, 2011, Apple bought the iCloud.com domain from Xcerion. That company was the only company to hold the "iCloud" trademark at the time. There were older trademarks containing compound words like "iCloudFusion" and "iCloudWalkers.com" It is assumed that Apple purchased the trademark at the same time. Apple later registered 11 of their own marks. iCloud Communications did not register for any marks for "iCloud" including their own company's name "iCloud Communications, Inc." It is clear to me that Apple did the due diligence.

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