San Diego – With Apple’s new iCloud service barely out of the gate, Apple has already been sued in the US District Court in Arizona for trademark infringement. The plaintiff is a company called iCloud Communications. While the Arizona-based iCloud alleges that it has used the iCloud trademark since 2005, it apparently has never registered the trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That mistake is likely to cost the company lots of money.
In its complaint, iCloud Communications alleges that it provides cloud computing services in addition to VOIP and other services. In addition to having spent more than $500,000 building up its data center and telecommunications hub in Phoenix, the company claims to have spent tens of thousands of dollars per year on marketing the trademark.
On June 1, 2011, Apple filed 11 iCloud trademark applications including this one which appears to cover the primary services at issue. Five days later on June 6, 2011, Apple made the official iCloud announcement. Though iCloud Communications claims that Apple was aware of its rights to the iCloud trademark, such a claim is greatly weakened by the fact that iCloud Communications has never registered the iCloud trademark federally. As of this writing, iCloud Communications curiously still has not filed a trademark application for iCloud.
iCloud Communications’ states that Apple’s size and marketing power has already caused irreparable harm stating: “[D]ue 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 trademark ‘iCloud’ with Apple, rather than iCloud Communications.”
We assume that the case will settle with a payment from Apple to iCloud Communications which will likely change its name.