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Apple sued over its use of iCloud name by iCloud Communications

June 14, 2011 |  3:15 pm

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Apple has been sued by Phoenix-based iCloud Communications for its use of the name iCloud for its new cloud-based file storage services.

The lawsuit, filed last week in an Arizona U.S. District Court, argues that Apple's use of iCloud is trademark infringement on the name of iCloud, a VoIP (Internet phone service) and cloud services company founded in 2005.

Apple has so far used the iCloud name to identify its services for consumers looking to store music, photos, video, emails and other types of data in remote servers that they access over the Web -- or from the cloud, as the tech industry calls it.

The company also says in its suit that Apple knew that iCloud Communications held the trademark on the iCloud name, but used it anyway and in doing so, has hurt its use of the name.

ICloudCommunicationsLogo"Due to the worldwide media coverage given to and generated by Apple's announcement of its 'iCloud' services and the ensuing saturation advertising campaign pursued by Apple, the media and the general public have quickly come to associate the mark 'iCloud' with Apple, rather than iCloud Communications," the Internet calling firm said in its complaint. "At the time Apple elected to adopt 'iCloud' for its cloud computing telecommunications and data services, Apple was aware of or was willfully blind to iCloud Communications' use of and rights in the iCloud Marks."

Apple officials were unavailable for comment on the suit on Tuesday. But, as iCloud argues in its suit, troubles over trademark infringement for Apple are nothing new when it comes to product names.

"Although Apple aggressively protects its trademark rights, Apple has a long and well known history of knowingly and willfully treading on the trademark rights of others -- a history which began as early as the 1970s when Apple was first sued for trademark infringement by the Beatles record label, Apple Corp.," iCloud says in its suit.

The complaint also points out that Apple's use of the names Macintosh computer, Mighty Mouse, iPhone and iAd were each met with trademark infringement suits from other companies who've used those respective names for products of their own.

Apple's use of the iCloud name has already led to a lot of confusion for iCloud Communications, which is hurting its business, the company said in its suit.

"In fact, iCloud Communications has received numerous inquiries from both existing and prospective customers regarding whether it is now owned or affiliated with Apple," iCloud said in the court document. "The loss of and damage to the goodwill in the iCloud Marks, the damage to iCloud Communication's reputation and confusion among consumers is likely to continue -- and, in fact, intensify -- unless Apple is enjoined from its use of the mark 'iCloud.'"

The suit calls for Apple to "deliver for destruction all labels, signs, prints, insignia, letterhead, brochures, business cards, invoices and any other written or recorded material or advertisements in its possession or control containing the iCloud name," as well as unspecified payment for damages and any profits Apple makes from its iCloud offerings.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: At top, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveils the iCloud storage system at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 6. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Image: At bottom, the iCloud Communications logo. Credit: iCloud Communications LLC

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