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Dell Tries To Trademark "Cloud Computing" 130

Posted by kdawson
from the head-in-the-clouds-or-perhaps-some-other-orifice dept.
Ian Lamont writes "The Industry Standard reports that Dell is trying to trademark the term cloud computing . The phrase entered the tech lexicon years ago, but Dell's application (serial number 77139082) was made in early 2007 to the US Patent and Trademark Office, apparently in connection with data center products and services that it was promoting around that time. A quick search of Google News indicates that Dell itself did not use the term in press releases or discussions with indexed English-language media sources from 1996 to 2006. Dell is not the first company to attempt to trademark this term: The Standard notes that NetCentric, a company that provided 'carrier-class Internet fax technology,' also gave it a shot in the late 1990s, but was rejected."
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Dell Tries To Trademark "Cloud Computing"

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    the difference between the Meta-Grid and the Hyper-Net!

    -Anonymous Howard

  • And here I thought that only happened with patents.

    • by StreetStealth (980200) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @11:16PM (#24452853) Journal

      The obviousness of some of the colloquial expressions protected under trademark in the US is sometimes quite surprising. Dish soap marketers, for instance, must be careful in how they describe the effective concentration of their product, because "a little goes a long way(tm)" is a trademark of P&G group.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by 5of0 (935391)
        You think that's bad, I passed a Carl's Jr. truck (Hardees to you east of the Mississippi) that said "It's Rude To Stare" next to a picture of their burger, and they had apparently trademarked the phrase, as it had a "TM" after it. And it was to the left of the burger, so it's not like they were trademarking the burger itself.

        I even found a picture [flickr.com] of the truck (the TM isn't visible, but it's there, just to the upper-right of the "It's Rude To Stare"). Is there something I'm missing, or is the trademark
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          You have to remember that trademarks are much more limited than, say, patents.

          If you patent something, you have exclusive say in who gets to use that patent for its lifetime. You can license it out at a price you decide, you can market your own product in a monopolistic fashion, or you can just sit on it. You can prevent anyone else from using something described in your patent, even if they invent it independently, even if they only use it privately, even if they're using it for something totally different

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Be careful where you use that term, or someone could trademark it and sue you for infringement.
    • by leenks (906881)

      Uh, Windows? :-)

    • It doesn't show it here http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/2007_almanac/?pg=34 [costcoconnection.com] but the instruction manual has the word Simplicity(tm)
    • And here I thought that only happened with patents.

      As usual, Apple made pioneering efforts in the industry by trying to multi-touch [uspto.gov] out from under Jeff Han, and now Dell is trying to play catch-up.

  • by NuKeLiTe (418)

    Don't know why is so important that term. Sorry Dell, I don't see a point here.

  • Cloudy thinking by Dell.
    • USPTO record (Score:5, Informative)

      by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Saturday August 02, 2008 @10:56PM (#24452731) Homepage
      Here is the U.S. Patent and Trademark listing: CLOUD COMPUTING [uspto.gov]
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by EdIII (1114411) *

      No it's just greedy thinking.

      Anytime you try to patent a technical term, you are just deluding yourself. The only reasons for doing so are gaining an edge an a pre-existent market.

      I would think the only exception is where a technical term actually gets created out of word that is already trademarked. Like "Xeroxing a paper". That did use to be a technical term in the past. I am sure there are others.

      The whole reason Dell wants this patent is so that when their competitors attempt to explain their own pr

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by jlarocco (851450)

        I would think the only exception is where a technical term actually gets created out of word that is already trademarked. Like "Xeroxing a paper". That did use to be a technical term in the past. I am sure there are others.

        "Xeroxing" is not, and was never, a technical term. It's the name of a company, Xerox, that makes copy machines.

        The whole reason Dell wants this patent

        Sigh. Did you even RTFS? Dell is trying to *trademark* the term, which is something completely different than a patent. The diffe

        • by EdIII (1114411) * on Sunday August 03, 2008 @02:05AM (#24453749)

          "Xeroxing" is not, and was never, a technical term. It's the name of a company, Xerox, that makes copy machines.

          Uhhhh, I call bullshit on that. I grew up with people calling the act of copying a piece of paper "Xeroxing". Xerox made the first copy machines. It was obvious for people to use the name and create a new word. It IS a technical term. It describes an action that is specifically related to a specific action with a specific technology.

          That is my whole point. They made the first copiers and the people responded by using the corporate name Xerox to describe that very act. It is just as valid as anything else. The longer people use it, the more valid it becomes in fact. Language is constantly evolving and they add new words all the time. It is not up to you or I to determine the validity of a term. The majority made it, therefore it exists.

          Sigh. Did you even RTFS? Dell is trying to *trademark* the term, which is something completely different than a patent. The difference is brought up in almost every single article on /. involving copyrights, trademarks or patents. How can anybody not know the difference by now?

          Take it easy. I know what the difference is between copyright, trademarks, and patents. I misspoke. It happens.

          Instead of poking fun at my mistake, why not address my argument directly? Dell attempting to get a trademark on a well defined technical term is not about protecting anything original to them. It's dirty and will most likely fail. I was pointing out that it is motivated by greed and an attempt to secure an unfair and undeserved advantage over their competitors.

          It would be like Pepsi or Coke trying to trademark "soda". It can't be done, shouldn't be tried, and is pretty silly to anyone considering it. So is cloud computing and Dell.

          • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

            by jlarocco (851450)

            It IS a technical term. It describes an action that is specifically related to a specific action with a specific technology.

            No, it's not [wikipedia.org]. "Xerography" is the technical term. "Xerox" is a meaningless, made up company name.

            Instead of poking fun at my mistake, why not address my argument directly?

            I didn't agree or disagree with your argument because you don't seem to know what you're talking about.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by EdIII (1114411) *

              I didn't agree or disagree with your argument because you don't seem to know what you're talking about.

              I think it's clear that I do know what I am talking about. Once again, you use a distasteful tactic to make a point. You have yet to make any productive comment about Dell's attempt to trademark a well known term, yet still persist in attacking me personally over a disagreement about whether or not a term exists in one of my examples.

              Kind of pointless. Whether you acknowledge it or not, "Xeroxing" is pa

              • by jlarocco (851450)

                Kind of pointless. Whether you acknowledge it or not, "Xeroxing" is part of our language. You can rant against that all you want. Apparently, instead of discussing it rationally, you just want to lobby personal attacks.

                Can you even read? Not once have I said the word "Xerox" isn't "part of our language". As I've tried to explain twice already, the technical term is *NOT* Xerox, it's "xerography". Yes, "Xerox" has become synomomous with "making a copying", but that *doesn't* make it the technical term f

                • by EdIII (1114411) *

                  Wow. You still cannot attempt a productive argument without at least one insult. I am pretty sure I can read. I think. It would make writing a little harder to be sure.

                  Anyways, Xeroxing is still as valid of a technical term as any. A technical term is, "A word that has a specific meaning within a specific field of expertise".

                  Well... that being said I would think secretaries making copies comprise a "field" that one could have expertise in. Those secretaries operating in said field, would commonly use t

                  • Just to throw a little more oil onto the fire of this argument, I'll point out that while "Xerox" may have become a generic verb in the US (and possibly other countries), I've *never* heard it used in the UK.

                    Here everyone says "photocopy" or "photocopying", even in everyday conversation. I've heard it said that this is because Xerox was never that big here, and that the first copiers to break the mass market were manufactured by their rivals. Not that we "Canon" or "Brother" a document either, though.

                    FW
                  • "Xeroxing", much like "Fo Shizzle My Nizzle" [do you really know exactly what it means?] is slang.

                    1. informal language consisting of words and expressions that are not considered appropriate for formal occasions; often vituperative or vulgar; "their speech was full of slang expressions"
                    2. a characteristic language of a particular group (as among thieves); "they don't speak our lingo" [syn: cant, jargon, lingo, argot, patois, vernacular]
              • by hairyfeet (841228)

                Sorry,but I have to agree here. As someone who grew up in the '70s,you NEVER copied anything,you Xeroxed it. Just like today nobody searches the web for anything,they Google it. I guarantee you if Google dies out in 5 years folks will still say "just Google it". Hell,I say "just Google it" and I use Yahoo search. But I can't ever remember anyone saying they needed to have something copied,they needed it Xeroxed. That was just they way it was,right along with wood grain on everything.

                So whether you believ

                • by EdIII (1114411) *

                  I think he is arguing a point to death even though it clearly is a valid technical term. He wants xerography to be the dominant and only recognized technical term for the process, but Xeroxing is just as valid.

                  You don't have to have grown up in the 70's either. I was born in the late 70's, and it was still Xeroxing well into the late 80's.

                  You've supported my point quite well though. It never mattered what company name was on the copier, you made a Xerox. That was my whole point about how a technical ter

          • by Aereus (1042228)
            Where I live, when you blow your nose you use a kleenex. When you want to cover leftovers, you use saran wrap. Yet Kleenex is just a brand of tissue paper, and Saran Wrap is just a brand of plastic wrap, but both products are so widespread, that the brand name is used to describe a generic product.
            • There's quite a few, and it generally depends on where you're from. Where I grew up, if you said "Saran wrap", people would stare at you blankly. You'd have to say "Glad Wrap"

              Others of course include the aforementioned by others Hoover and Xerox, as well as Post It Note, Nescafe, Band Aid, Coke (the drink), Bic, Milo, PalmPilot (now obsolete almost everywhere AFAIK), Aspirin, Google, and others.

          • I think you make some interesting points. I disagree, but enjoyed thinking about why because it's a classic subject. Forgive the length, just enjoying some mental exercise here...

            It describes an action that is specifically related to a specific action with a specific technology. That is my whole point.

            First, this is a questionable assertion. On what basis can you say that people don't use "Xerox" if they are not in fact using traditional photocopying to copy their piece of paper? I would know exactly what

            • by EdIII (1114411) *

              I think you make some interesting points. I disagree, but enjoyed thinking about why because it's a classic subject. Forgive the length, just enjoying some mental exercise here...

              I'm just happy that somebody has written a very well thought out response. I was just making an example of a situation in which a trademarked name evolved into a verb that described the very service the company was offering. Interesting how many people had something to say about just that.

              It describes an action that is specif

              • No, I understand it. I just disagree with it, or at least some of your restrictions on it.

                Provide some evidence of your understanding beyond your own definition. I based my argument on an external source (Wikipedia, as democratic a source as they come):

                Technical terminology is the specialized vocabulary of a field. These terms have specific definitions within the field, which is not necessarily the same as their meaning in common use. Jargon is similar, but more informal in definition and use, while legal t

            • No matter how many people continue to use Xerox as a verb, no matter for how long, it will not cease to be a trademark (assuming Xerox continue to renew it)

              Depends on jurisdiction. AFAIK your statement is correct for Europe but not for the US, where "enough" colloquial use can invalidate a trademark.

              Back on topic:
              Dell tries to hijack an already established term, while Xerox actually created a new class of product and the term was derived from that. So one can argue that Xerox deserve their trademark, while

          • by dangitman (862676)
            Wouldn't "copying" or "duplicating" be the technical term? "Xeroxing" is just a variant of a marketing term.
          • "Xeroxing" is not, and was never, a technical term. It's the name of a company, Xerox, that makes copy machines.

            Uhhhh, I call bullshit on that. I grew up with people calling the act of copying a piece of paper "Xeroxing". Xerox made the first copy machines. It was obvious for people to use the name and create a new word. It IS a technical term. It describes an action that is specifically related to a specific action with a specific technology.

            That is my whole point. They made the first copiers and the people responded by using the corporate name Xerox to describe that very act. It is just as valid as anything else. The longer people use it, the more valid it becomes in fact. Language is constantly evolving and they add new words all the time. It is not up to you or I to determine the validity of a term. The majority made it, therefore it exists.

            Disclaimer: IANAL, and this should not be construed as legal advice.

            Edlll,

            Cloud computing aside, your comments about Xerox photocopying are wrong and misleading. In the future, please make sure to provide the standard IANAL disclaimer as you are clearly without clue about trademark law.

            No one sells Xerox photocopiers but Xerox; Cannon, Ricoh, Sharp sell photocopiers. Kinkos provides photocopy services, not "xeroxing" services.

            Similarly, no one but Kleenex sells Kleenex brand facial tissues and you and

            • by EdIII (1114411) *

              Cloud computing aside, your comments about Xerox photocopying are wrong and misleading. In the future, please make sure to provide the standard IANAL disclaimer as you are clearly without clue about trademark law.

              I am a little unsure as to what you thought I was saying. It's not wrong. There is an argument about whether or not Xeroxing is a valid technical term of which on poster has wrote a very interesting argument against it. I was not making any claims for or against Xerox's trademarks. I did not gi

          • by Macthorpe (960048)

            Really interesting stuff.

            I might go google it and see what I can find.

    • I like to speculate about the social background of how these things happen. Here is my guess:

      Dell top executives were sitting around during a long lunch smoking cigarettes and drinking martinis. One of them said, "We've gotten a lot of free bad publicity [google.com] in the past, but now that Ed Foster has very unfortunately and sadly died [gripe2ed.com], how will we get bad press in the future?

      They smoke their cigarettes for a while in silence while staring at a good-looking waitress, until one of them says, "I know. We will ge
      • by EdIII (1114411) *

        which I think would be more interesting than this fictional one

        I don't know. Write some more about the good looking waitress. What kind of martini was it? Mix up a murder investigation or something. I think I would stick to the good looking waitress.

        Something like, ".. and the waitress came over to the table. She was tall and had long blond hair. She took a long puff off her cigarette which gave me time to look her up and down. She had tits so big you could see her coming around the corner and still

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday August 02, 2008 @10:55PM (#24452705)

    The first comment to the article links to the USPTO page for the applicatoin [uspto.gov] where the status shows that the opposition period went by without anybody noticing, so the mark is one step closer to being validated. It appears only the dependable USPTO is left to block this thing on its own.

  • Cloud opportunity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by darealpat (826858) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @10:55PM (#24452711) Journal

    I was struck by the comment at the end of the article by a trademark attorney that no-one had opposed it when it was initially published. I think that points to a fundamental flaw in the process: who knows of or sees these things in order to oppose them?

    Perhaps that is the clouded thinking that permeates the USPTO and the tech entities that use them to further their cause.

    • Anybody (Score:4, Informative)

      by dereference (875531) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @11:21PM (#24452911)

      who knows of or sees these things in order to oppose them?

      Anybody [uspto.gov]. The marks are published weekly for opposition. The latest few are available as PDF downloads free of charge; follow the link and you can even subscribe to the paper copy (for merely $1,536/year).

      • by samj (115984) *

        Ok, excuse me while I spend my Sunday afternoon (and allocate a day every week from now until the end of time) downloading this week's 154.2Mb Trademark Official Gazette [uspto.gov] and then going to find equivalents in all the other jurisdictions I care about (which probably means the 80 members of the Madrid system [wikipedia.org], given a grant in any of them can be ratcheted up to a 'global' trademark within 6 months).

        Either the USPTO has to do their job or the community has to do it for them - in the latter case I would suggest t

    • by Steneub (1070216)
      Reminds me of Hitchhiker's Guide and the Vogons. "It was clearly posted in public! It's not our fault you didn't do anything."
  • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @10:57PM (#24452733) Journal

    A device for generating heat based on the constricted flow of subatomic particles through metallic pathways, embedded in a fabric base for easy folding and heat distribution! I call it an "electric blanket" :)

    • by drspliff (652992)

      Although if you could stretch the definition of fabric to say.. silicone you've pretty much patented every IC on the planet.

  • When the f*** is someone going to take the initiative, like Al Gore did in creating the internet, to reform the U.S. patent protocol. If it is an algorithm, that is a legitimate patent. There are certain classes of patents, especially technology ones referring to a design methodology, that should not be patented.

    All this is going to do is provide ammunition for frivolous lawsuits, and there are plenty of those already with ambulance chasers. Its just a sickening waste of public funds.

    • wtf?? (Score:2, Funny)

      by CranberryKing (776846)

      ..like Al Gore did in creating the internet.

      Wait, I thought AOL created the Internet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MrMage (1240674)
        If Al Gore or AOL created the internet, then why does every internet address begin with www? Bush clearly left his mark on the tubes.
        • If Al Gore or AOL created the internet, then why does every internet address begin with www? Bush clearly left his mark on the tubes.

          there are marks on the tubes?!

          no wonder my packets aren't making it back from blizzard's servers.. they're probably still stuck in the scratches!

      • by eln (21727)

        No, AOL killed [wikipedia.org] the Internet.

  • Microsoft trademarked "windows."
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft: Windows, Word, Excel.
      Apple: Pages, Numbers, Safari.

      • by samj (115984) *

        Perhaps, but there wasn't already hundreds of vendors selling products and services around these terms when they were trademarked...

    • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Informative)

      by urcreepyneighbor (1171755) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @11:21PM (#24452907)

      Microsoft trademarked "windows."

      Which only applies to operating systems [uspto.gov], computers [uspto.gov] and related crap [uspto.gov]. It does not cover the use of the word for sheets of glass.

      Trademark law seems a little less insane than copyright. At least, to a layman.

      • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PitaBred (632671) <<slashdot> <at> <pitabred.dyndns.org>> on Sunday August 03, 2008 @12:09AM (#24453181) Homepage

        Except that the "window" was a concept that was known to many OS's before Microsoft got ahold of it. Same case here with Cloud Computing. You should not be able to trademark a name of a generic concept or practice.

        • Except that the "window" was a concept that was known to many OS's before Microsoft got ahold of it.

          Let's not confuse patents and trademarks.

          Same case here with Cloud Computing.

          I don't know what the situation with Cloud Computing is. The little I know makes me want to avoid the entire mess. So, I can't really comment.

          You should not be able to trademark a name of a generic concept or practice.

          Eh. This is getting philosophical.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Why not? So you can't call your operating system "Windows." You are perfectly free to refer to the square things in your OS as windows. And every GUI OS I know of does so.

          It's a stupid name anyway.

      • Which only applies to operating systems [uspto.gov], computers [uspto.gov] and related crap [uspto.gov]. It does not cover the use of the word for sheets of glass.

        ... and "X Windows," which predates Microsoft's trademark application by more than a decade.

        And, yes, I know that's not the official name of the X windowing system -- but it's common usage, and now illegal.

  • Too bad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @11:26PM (#24452955)

    Maybe if Dell patented it we could go back to calling servers "servers."

  • This reminds me of the Fred Hoyle SF classic where an intelligent cloud from interstellar space surrounds the sun and only a few scientists are able to communicate with it. They were able to use the cloud to thwart others on earth from communicating with it. Brings interesting parallels to monopolies, selfishness and greed to mind.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    is Dell's new TV ad where "Steve" bounces up and down on his bed with an air guitar singing,

    Hey! (hey)
    Dude! (dude)
    Get Off-a Mah Cloud

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 02, 2008 @11:40PM (#24453047)
    ... if it means nobody else will be able to say "cloud computing" anymore I am all for it. Now it someone would have been able to trademark Web 2.0 life would be good.
    • Are you also okay with someone patenting "object oriented", "client/server", and "clustering"? Because they are all expressions used to refer to specific architectures.

      I know some terms get overused, but letting people patent them isn't the best way to combat hype.

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday August 02, 2008 @11:42PM (#24453055)

    "Cloud computing" is one of those "next big thing" products here on slashdot, but who's actually using the term in their marketing? Plenty of people are selling "cloud" applications, but nobody's calling it that as most people think of "the cloud" as untrustworthy.

    Is there an actual case of somebody like Amzaon's s3 actually calling themselves "cloud computing"?

  • Fired (Score:2, Funny)

    Didn't some asshole try to trademark "You're fired" a few years ago. Sheesh.
  • Maybe they'll have better luck if they actually make a water vapor cloud that can do calculations. But of course then the patent people would just say "WTF, I ordered your new cloud and I'm locked out of local disk management" and refuse them the patent anyway.
    • If I had one of those kind of cloud computers, I could say "I made it rain" and still remain a geek.
  • I don't see Dell selling or providing any service or product close to Amazon or Google. Did they think they'll grab the buzzword first and then come up with some idea of a product? Is this the typical Dell way of doing business and product development? Were they thinking of printing cool cloud patterns and sky color on their next laptop line? You'd think with their brand recognition and product reach, Dell would be setting itself up as THE alternative to Windows and Mac with out-of-the-box Linux. There

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 03, 2008 @12:36AM (#24453317)

    ...special, brings up images of warm spring days and cute fluffy bunny rabbits and various chick flick scenes and [voice="George Carlin"] BULLLLLL SHIT! Get that "sensitive" guy out of the damn room! Who wants a "cloud" computer, give me a category 10 hurricane computer with some richtor 25 earthquake RAM! And Krakatoa I/O!

  • "Dude, you're getting some computing resources allocated for you in the cloud!"
  • Anonymous Coward (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If I read the USPTO site correctly on July 8th Dell was granted an Allowance to use the term "cloud computing" so they're not "trying" to trademark it, they actually did. And are actually using it in promotional materials. See, http://www.dell.com/cloudcomputing.

  • If this name grab fails, they could always use 'Crippled Audio Computing' in honor of their secret deal with the RIAA. http://mobile.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/07/11/0128203 [slashdot.org]
  • Great!!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2@anthonym c l i n.com> on Sunday August 03, 2008 @02:26AM (#24453849) Homepage

    Now could someone please trademark Web 2.0 so we won't have to hear that stupid buzzword either?

  • Dell itself did not use the term in press releases or discussions with indexed English-language media sources from 1996 to 2006

    Why were they using the term prior to 1996, and why did they suddenly stop?

  • Dude, you're getting a Cloud!

    Would that be the same as.. vaporware?!? :D

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