Dell loses 'cloud computing' trademark bid

The US Patent and Trademark Office has given Dell a further six months to justify any award of a trademark for the term 'cloud computing'

Following discussions with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Dell last week lost the right to hold the trademark for the term 'cloud computing'. However, the company was also allowed six months to try and convince the Patent and Trademark Office that the trademark should be granted.

Dell received a preliminary notice on 8 July saying the company could have the trademark, but the notice was withdrawn on 7 August. On Tuesday, Dell was denied the trademark on the term, but was also offered the opportunity to provide more information to deal with the specific objections raised by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). The company has been given six months to provide all the information it wishes, for the PTO's consideration.

The PTO said in its statement that the "registration is refused because the applied-for mark merely describes a feature and characteristic of applicant's services". In other words, as cloud-computing consultant Sam Johnston said in his blog on Friday, Dell failed in its application because the patent officers understood cloud computing to be a simple, generic concept.

"A mark is merely descriptive if it describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose or use of the specified services," Johnston wrote in his blog. "That is, 'cloud computing' simply describes a type of computing in the same way that 'yellow bananas' describes a (common) type of banana."

Dell has been pursuing the trademark of the term 'cloud computing' as it applied to the "custom manufacture of computer hardware for use in datacentres and mega-scale computing environments for others" and "design of computer hardware for use in datacentres and mega-scale computing environments".

Dell did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication of this article.