back to article iCloud Communications sues Apple for 'irreparable injury' to trademark

A Phoenix, Arizona company is throwing a trademark complaint at Apple over the iCloud moniker. iCloud Communications LLC stated in its filing, courtesy of The Next Web, on 9 June that it has provided cloud computing services since 2005. It said its "software applications and customer data are hosted at and are accessed …

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  1. Andy ORourke
    Joke

    They may have poked the sleeping giant

    Don't apple own the "i" in front of every computer / communications type of product?

    Surely Apple will demand they (iCloud Communications) cease and desist and force a name change on them

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You mean, like iBM?

      ^^^ --- as title

  2. Adam T

    geticloud.com ?

    Top tip - If the domain you want is already gone, pick a difference company name and find a domain that fits. Alarm bells should have been ringing when they couldn't register icloud.com in the first place.

    Some would argue that it doesn't matter...well, it does.

    1. PsychicMonkey
      FAIL

      what have you been smoking?

      the domain name for most things worth having have already gone.

      Since Apple introduced their iCloud this will have an effect on the public that assumes this established company are to do with Apple, they have a reasonable claim I'd think.

      I supose the reponse will be "change your company name, not that big of a deal"

    2. Thomas 18
      Thumb Up

      Oooh Oooh Willful infringment

      That means they pay triple!

      1. Adam T
        Stop

        re: what have you been smoking?

        "the domain name for most things worth having have already gone"

        A made-up word (iCloud) is suddenly a thing?

        You're welcome to a drag of my favourite herb, if it help you see things clearer.

        As is, I do agree that they may have a reasonable claim - and that Apple are tossers (for instance, I'm a fan of Versions, the SVN client, not Versions the OS X feature).

  3. thesykes

    Why now?

    OK,so, they're a little annoyed at Apple using iCloud, as it's a name they've been using for years. Fair enough.

    But, why ask for the domain now? Did they ask the Swedes for it? Did they offer good money for it? Or, did they not care?

    1. PsychicMonkey

      probably

      because of the difference in size and location of this other company, Apple are a massive brand, therefore affects teh business a bit more than the Swedes probably did, that said it may cause them problems now if they didn't go after the domain earlier.

    2. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

      Usage

      Also depends a lot on what the Swedish mob were using it for. If they were a Meteorology company then there was no cross-over no no issue.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Turns out

        Xcerion (the original Swedish owner of icloud.com domain name) has been offering a "cloud" OS for a little over three years (since April 2008) with online storage, mail, calendar, etc. In other words, almost identical services to those of iCloud Communications.

        If this company had any real claim they should have been in court with Xcerion or trying to obtain the domain name from them for the last three years, the fact that they didn't suggest that they've been riding the iAnything bandwagon to sell their own service and were happy to imply an Apple connection when it worked in their favour.

        The main thrust of their claim is that Apple "has form" for using names that belong to other companies and sites iPhone, iPad and the Mighty Mouse specifically. Unfortunately, they should have done some research first.

        iPhone: Cisco had a trademark in the US since 2000 acquired when they bought another company *but* they didn't own the trademark anywhere else and there were at least four VoIP phones on the market already called "The iPhone". Apple did try to strike a deal with Cicso but couldn't and presumably figured Cisco's position was weakened by not having gone after any of the others. Ultimately Apple did reach an agreement with everyone that they would all continue to sell iPhone devices.

        iPad: Fujitsu had a device on the market since 2002 called the iPad, but had failed to obtain the trademark for it. in 2009 it was listed as "abandoned" before Fujitsu tried to revive the claim and Apple made their own claim. Not a particularly cut and dried situation.

        Mighty Mouse: Apple obtained the rights to use the name from Viacom/CBS before launching the Mighty Mouse. Unfortunately it transpired that Viacom/CBS didn't have a trademark for Mighty Mouse on computer peripherals, that belonged to someone else. Just a straighforward mistake.

        So...

        iCloud? Quite clearly that mark belonged to Xcerion and now they've sold it to Apple. Nothing to do with iCloud Communications, they haven't made any claim to the "iCloud" trademark before now.

  4. Stu J
    Meh

    Limited sympathy

    It doesn't cost a lot to register a trademark, in the grand scheme of things. A quick search on the USPTO site suggests that iCloud Communications LLC haven't tried to register anything "icloudy" as far as I can tell.

    Yes, their business may well be adversely affected, but they should have actively protected their brand if it mattered so much to them. In the UK I believe it is possible to oppose trademark applications on the basis of past usage, although I'm not sure it's possible to obtain a trademark retrospectively in such circumstances, and then subsequently enforce it.

    Don't get me wrong, I despise crApple and their marketing, but I don't think iCloud Communications LLC have got much of a leg to stand on. If Apple were being kind, and recognised the irreperable damage they've inflicted on a much smaller company who arguably aren't a competitor, they could perhaps fund a full rename, rebrand, and marketing campaign for iCloud Communications LLC, but given how the scumbags at Cupertino operate, I can't for a minute imagine that they'd give a toss

    iCloud Communications have learnt the hard way, I'd say...

    1. Tom 13

      Trademarks can also be opposed in the US

      on those grounds. It's certainly possible the LLC was privately (foolishly as well) trying to resolve things amicably without involving a fleet of lawyers and have only now reached the conclusion that it isn't possible. And even if they weren't that's the claim their lawyer should make.

      As a member of a smallish non-profit I was once part of a similar effort against an infringing group, although in our case we were the big fish and they looked like the scammers who could diminish our mark. We were initially just as foolish. If I ever find myself in a similar situation I'll launch the full broadside of lawyers without a second thought.

  5. Thomas 18
    Go

    Open and shut case

    I recommend a big fine and forcing Apple to rename it MobileMe 2

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Spot on

      You just used the wrong heading. You should have tagged this as "Joke Ahead" for those whose iSense of iHumour has been excised as a part of their iNdoctrination.

      1. Tom 13

        No, he tagged it correctly.

        Putting a joke tag on it would have been false advertising.

  6. LaeMing
    Happy

    If I ever manage a company trying to overtake the world...

    ...I will certainly start by inventing (and patenting, copyrighting, registering, etc.) an entirely new letter for the Latin alphabet (with around 47 distinct sounds spread ad-hoc across 26 letters, English - at least - has plenty of room to move there!).

  7. Dave Murray

    Apple

    Just change the name.

    Not that big of a deal.

  8. Chris Miller

    iDiocy

    That is all

  9. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Facepalm

    LOL!

    What iCloud Communications LLC just said to Jobs: "Hey, you, moneybags! Buy me! BUY ME!"

    Should be a nice earner for the iCloud Coms shareholders either way. Someone in Apple HQ must have really skipped on the homework on this one, or does Steve really go to market with the attitude "Full speed ahead and damn the icebergs!"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Bless them

    for using the super-trendy iNoun name formation.

    I wonder where they got the idea for that from, back in 2005?

  11. Mage Silver badge
    Pirate

    Again

    Beatles' Apple Corp. Steve and Steve DELIBERATELY chose Apple because of Beatles!

    Cisco iPhone

    NEC or Fujitsu iPad

    App store

    How many other names?

    Most Apple patents are either not really original or novel enough, or copies of prior art.

    Refused apps on store and then Apple copies

    Apple deserve to lose.

  12. Ivan Headache

    Puzzling?

    Why haven't they sued the company that Apple bought the name off? Surely they were also infringing.

    If they have spent all this money 'promoting the brand' how come I'd never heard of icloud until Apple's cloud thing started to be a rumour?

    Why hadn't they got icloud.com akready?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Confusion?

    iCould Communications

    Apple's iCloud

    Who the hell could be confused?

  14. Select * From Handle
    Gimp

    Unlucky Apple

    In my opinion after seeing that icloud communications have been going for 5 years apple should not be able to use the name icloud as a brand at all... regardless of how much advertising they have put into the name icloud. icloud communications will now suffer for years to come as a result of apple.

    only options for apple to keep the icloud brand.

    A. buy out icloud coms, if they were to accept an offer...

    B. pay them a hefty amount in compensation, as their isn't really hope for that company any more.

    pre pair to be spanked apple..

  15. nyelvmark
    WTF?

    Surely there's more to this than meets the eye?

    It seems inconceivable that Apple didn't do their research. Did iCloud register the trademarks? Or are they saying that they didn't need to?

  16. Mike Hanna
    FAIL

    Money is not enough!

    "Monetary relief alone is inadequate to fully address the irreparable injury that Apple’s illegal actions have caused and will continue to cause to iCloud Communications if this court does not enjoin Apple. iCloud Communications is, therefore, entitled to preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to stop Apple’s unfair competition."

    Sounds like they want to be bought out and become part of Apple just so they shut up. Hands up who thinks Apple will stop calling their product iCloud?

  17. wondermouse

    Interesting to note...

    ..that on geticloud.com the landing page is devoted to VOIP solutions not cloud computing, and even when you follow the datacenter link it's all about hosting, managed services and technical support rather than the sort of cloud computing that Apple is pursuing.

    On the plus side, the site says they have been in business since 1985.

  18. Dan Wilkinson

    Funny...

    ...how they never bothered to sue xcerian before they sold it to Apple?

  19. Yarrb

    iCloud Comms should win the legal case

    wow are apple legalites really that silly not to check for existing companys using the name and/or trademarks...

    serves them right if iClous Comms wins,

    i'd be delighted to see that happen ,make my day.. :)

  20. Jonathan 10

    How long before...

    Apple just either pays them off or buys the company?

  21. Keith 21
    FAIL

    Not a leg to stand on

    Given that the icloud.com domain was already in existence for many years, owned legally by another company who legally sold it to Apple, and during all that time these clowns said and did nothing, they do not have a leg to stand on over this.

    Just another 2-bit outfit desperately trying to drum up some free publicity by clinging on to Apple's announcements.

  22. jack_flash
    Boffin

    hmmmm

    I can see that the iCloud name is certainly going to disappear into the forthcoming iCloud noise on the internet. However I can't help thinking that since Apple first coined the 'i' in it's product line many years ago and everyone and their nan has tried jumping on the 'i' band wagon I have no sympathy for the company not being very original with their name.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    "It currently uses the geticloud.com domain name"

    Not for long, I bet. Despite the fact that they seem to have a solid case, history tells us that they will lose and Apple will rub salt into the wound by forcing them to give up the domain name that they do have.

    Icon isn't for Apple, but for a system that allows them to do whatever they want cos they're big enough.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    as others above have said...

    So they didn't pursue the iCloud.com domain name for 6 years? Sounds like a loser to me. Of course, any company whose name is "i"[word] has had more than a few years to come to terms with Apple.

    (according to register.com)

    icloud.com: Record created on 18-Dec-2007.

    geticloud.com: Created on: 03-Mar-05.

    So it looks like they had 32 months to buy icloud.com and didn't. Also, they must not be too proud of their domain, since their company name isn't listed, just a private registration.

    The internet way-back machine only has them as far as early 2007 and a voice/lan provider

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      iCloud did not register their trademark

      So I think they are going to lose, period. In fact, even if they had registered their trademark, they would lose it now for not having enforced it during all these years. As far as I understand, that is how Trademark law works.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        @ratfox

        iCloud Communications LLC is the registered company name. Does it need to be *also* registered as a trademark too?

        As far as defending their brand or trademark goes, we don't know anything about that yet. Maybe there was nothing to defend in terms of the owners of icloud.com. If the owners of icloud.com were in a different business, them there is no conflict.

        Up until the end of 2002, www.icloud.com was redirecting to http://home.ewha.ac.kr/~isjung/, an academic institution in Korea, account holder Insung Jung. Later he hosted it as a proper domain while a Professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan.

        Xcerion seem to have got the domain from him sometime between 17 Jan and 28 Feb 2008, although Xcerion claim to have launched a cloud service beta called icloud based on their own Cloud OS 30 Sep 2007 and were developing it since 2001.

        1. Tom 13

          He is right that it needs to be a registered trademark,

          wrong about everything else. And as an added bonus, you can file for the mark at the same time you sue Apple, it's just a harder legal route to take. If you have the mark clear and free BEFORE you file the suit, your claim is more defensible in court. Now iCloud LLC have to prove things that would be assumed if they had the mark. It's one of the reasons the opposition eventually folded on the event I referenced in my other post.

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      For a start

      The same people Apple thought would be confused by the iPood shovel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Devil

        Indeed

        The el reg readership may not give an iSh*t, but that is the el reg readership. There are not that many copyright lawyers hanging out in this joint.

    3. AndyDoran

      Creation Date of icloud.com

      Note that the "created on" date, displayed via a WHOIS query, is typically the date of the most-recent-renewal: icloud.com was most recently updated in December 2007, when it was probably re-registered for 10 years (the expiry date is January 2018).

      If you check more carefully, you will find the icloud.com name was originally registered in January 1999. I agree with other posters, if the name was so important, they should have paid for the domain name in 2005 when they started using "icloud".

    4. Tom 13

      It's a trademark issue, so it is the same as

      Apple vs Apple only this time Beatles fans won't be collateral damage.

  25. Piers
    Meh

    http://geticloud.com/products.html

    "Market-Tested VoIP Technologies

    Whether you are looking at Hosted PBX or SIP Trunking service, chances are your business will need some VoIP products to run the service at peak performance. Choose from the following technologies:

    IP phones are used with hosted PBX service to provide feature rich desk phones

    Wireless IP phones provide total flexibility and are used with our Hosted PBX service

    VoIP gateways are adapters used to connect non-IP devices such as fax, credit card, or modem devices to a VoIP phone line. They are also used to connect existing non-IP PBX phone systems to SIP trunking VoIP service.

    iCloud customers benefit from full configuration and support on these products with our hosted PBX or SIP trunking services."

    errrr.... and the 'cloud' element of this is what exactly? Far more likely that they'll get a bunch of hits they wouldn't have had.

    1. Select * From Handle

      i think you are a bit confused as to what cloud computing is.

      what icloud offers is voip services hosed on their network. they deal with all the DDI analogue lines converting them at their PBX or Servers for the fax lines (or something to that fashion). because its all done at their end and made available over the internet, it is a cloud service.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cloud Services

      Hosted PBX service - this would be considered a core telecoms "cloud" service. Their business model describes call processing being handled in the cloud rather than on a local PBX.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Well done!

    You get your 15 mins of fame, lots of publicity ( you're going to court so it won't be free! ), you're hoping Apple don't need the grief and will either buy you outright or pay shed loads to make you go away quietly.

    Either way you're onto a winner! Nice work if you can get it.

  27. M Gale

    If I remember rightly...

    ...Apple were once told by a certain Apple Corps that they had no problem with the "Apple" brand so long as they didn't break into the music business. This particular Apple Corps being around since, oh, the 1960s at least?

    Yeah, look at what happened there.

  28. Matt 94

    Trademark/patent enforcement...

    ... is tricky across borders - you need a final judgement in your own country, and then spend money to try and get that enforced in the country where the infringement took place, which is maybe why iCould Comms didn't pursue xcerian in Sweden but went straight after Apple in the States...

  29. RTNavy

    Apple vs Apple, iCloud vs iCloud

    Most people should look at how Apple Computer took on, lost but really won its battle with Apple Music (aka The Beatles)....

    The Beattles had Apple Music long before there were computers, and Apple still got to keep their name as long as they didn't enter the music business and even after they did you can bet they still won, even after some cash payouts etc. And what do we have today? Apple Computer is now just Apple, and you can get Beatles music on iTunes.

    Apple will win, and the iCloud company will get a little bit of cash and some free publicity.

  30. a cynic writes...
    Coat

    I suspect Apple pick their battles...

    ...do you remember when they unveiled iTV? I wonder what happened to that.

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