News flash: sanity makes a comeback?

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According to the USPTO web site, the "Notice of Allowance" for Dell's attempt to trademark Cloud Computing has been cancelled.

My (completely uninformed) hypothesis about what this means: the newly-hired and entirely clueless USPTO attorney who previously acted on this (her initials are J.E.F.) has been overruled by some slightly more experienced and clueful superiors, prodded by the widely-recognized preposterousness of the case.

Rumors that Michael Dell has been overheard rehearsing old Stones' songs are unsubstantiated.


  1. Bill Poser said,

    August 6, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

    Well, it is good to hear that the notice of allowance has been cancelled, but still disheartening that it was ever issued.

    The trademark examiner who originally issued the notice is approximately 32 years old and appears to have worked for USPTO since September of 2006. So, she probably is not an old hand, in spite of her title of "Senior Attorney", but is not entirely green either. Such limited biographical information as I have found does not indicate whether she has any background in computing.

  2. Mark Liberman said,

    August 6, 2008 @ 4:27 pm

    @Bill: given the strong feelings about this topic, I thought it was probably better not to encourage people to look into the personal details of the responsible attorney, which (other than her possible lack of experience in the associated technological areas) are not really relevant.

  3. Zubon said,

    August 6, 2008 @ 4:50 pm

    But it does show what you can find by Googling something. A bit more specific, granted, than the 2.1 million hits you get for the phrase "cloud computing." This suggests the 5-second "seeing if there are already millions of uses of this phrase" step was not early in the procedure.

  4. Stephen Jones said,

    August 7, 2008 @ 1:45 am

    I think we do need to recognize that the US Patent Office works on a much more restrictive definition of prior art than the rest of the world.

    Trademarks are slightly different in that Microsoft Windows is a trademark despite windows being attested from thousands of years ago and the trademark attorney hopefully having one in her office. Dell Cloud Computing would presumably be granted a trademark with no problem.

    Incidentally, does anyone know if anybody has tried to trademark Beowulf Cluster.

  5. Bill Poser said,

    August 7, 2008 @ 2:45 am

    @Stephen Jones,

    The problem is not really that "Microsoft Windows" is a trademark, since in that case the "Microsoft" component prevents interference with other uses of the word "windows"; rather it is that "Windows" by itself is a trademark , and that "window", in the sense in which the term is used with regard to graphical user interfaces, is a generic term.

  6. Rob Gunningham said,

    August 7, 2008 @ 3:51 am

    It's funny to see Keef wearing specs in that old 1965 video.

  7. Aaron Davies said,

    August 7, 2008 @ 8:48 am

    "Windows" is actually another good example of a bogus trademark that should never have gotten past the examiners. Serious shenanigans appear to have been involved, as they were again when Lindows was on the verge of getting it revoked.

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