Trademark sanity restored

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The US Patent and Trademark Office recently embarrassed itself by granting preliminary approval to a ridiculous application by Dell to trademark the generic term cloud computing. It partially reversed course soon afterward by canceling the Notice of Allowance. The matter has now reached a conclusion: USPTO has denied the application. The letter to Dell, which contains numerous examples of the use of cloud computing as a generic term, is available here.


  1. rootlesscosmo said,

    August 26, 2008 @ 10:24 pm

    Makes you proud to live in a country whose case law includes

    In re Dial-A-Mattress Operating Corp., 240 F.3d 1341, 1346

    If the Constitution be not a splendid bauble…

  2. Bill Poser said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 12:21 am

    Well, not every case can be Brown or Gideon

  3. rootlesscosmo said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 12:27 am

    No, absolutely–my allusion to Marbury was by way of paying sincere tribute to the institution of judicial review, even in Dial-a-Mattress.

  4. USPTO rejects Dell cloud computing trademark application said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 9:35 am

    […] Poser noted on Language Log that the US Patent and Trademark Office has refused Dell's application to […]

  5. b said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 11:56 am

    It's not quite over, as Dell may respond to the PTO's office action. However, I bet Dell won't.

  6. Bill Poser said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

    It's not quite over, as Dell may respond to the PTO's office action. However, I bet Dell won't.

    True, they could respond, or if USPTO persists even take it to court, but the case against them is so strong that I doubt that they will want to embarass themselves further.

  7. b said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 3:55 pm

    Probably not, but some people are without shame…like this guy who applied for CYBERLAW:!ut/p/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLN4r3CQXJgFieAfqRqCLGpqgiBvGOcAFfj_zcVP0goESkOVDCzUc_Kic1PTG5Uj9Y31s_QL8gNzQ0otzbEQAesCwl/delta/base64xml/L0lJSk03dWlDU1lKSi9vQXd3QUFNWWdBQ0VJUWhDRUVJaEZLQSEvNEZHZ2RZbktKMEZSb1hmckNIZGgvN18wX0ZMLzY4L3NhLmdvdi51c3B0by50b3cuYWN0aW9ucy5EZXRhaWxWaWV3QWN0aW9u#7_0_FL

  8. dr pepper said,

    August 28, 2008 @ 2:21 am

    One beer company actually tried to gain control of "light" or failing that, "lite".

  9. andy said,

    September 1, 2008 @ 7:51 am

    This comes of course at the same time that Microsoft is awarded patents for the concept of "Pg Up" and "Pg Dn" with references to an almost 30 year old IBM keyboard.

    Oh teh irony!

  10. Janet Willis said,

    December 1, 2008 @ 4:14 pm

    Unfortunately, mistakes like this one made by the trademark office are all too common. This is partly due to the fact that Trademark Examiners are not always in tune with the particular industry that they're examining. If you think about it, one Examiner can review hundreds if not thousands of different trademarking applications in all different types of industries, and of course no one can expect them to know for sure what names or terms are considered generic within all different types of industries. So that's what the opposition process is for: to allow third parties who know the industry well to come forward and dispute the trademark application if the name is in fact generic.

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