It was bound to happen sooner or later: just one week after Apple's formal announcement of iCloud at WWDC 2011, a company called iCloud Communications has filed a trademark suit against Apple. The Arizona-based company points out that its own trademarks have been in use since 2005 and that Apple has infringed on its name with the introduction of its own cloud-based service—which it alleges is part of a pattern of willful infringement on Apple's part.
According to iCloud Communications' website, the company focuses on VoIP solutions for business and residential customers, though in its complaint filed in the US District Court of Arizona, the company also says it provides other cloud computing services to its customers as well. In addition to having spent more than $550,000 building up its data center and telecommunications hub in Phoenix, the company claims to spend "tens of thousands of dollars" annually in advertisements using its own iCloud logos.
Apple, on the other hand, only recently announced iCloud—the company hinted at it just a week before finally introducing iCloud's various music and syncing features for iOS devices during the WWDC keynote. iCloud Communications says in its complaint that it believes that Apple was either aware or was willfully blind to iCloud Communications' rights to the iCloud trademark, however, and that this is yet another example of Apple's "act first and worry about the consequences later" approach to trademark use.
The suit cites the Macintosh computer (similar to stereo equipment maker McIntosh Labs), the Mighty Mouse (similar to the cartoon character Mighty Mouse), the iPhone (similar to Cisco's iPhone), the iPad (to which a trademark application has been filed by Fujitsu Frontech North America), iAds (a trademark owned by Innovative Media Group), and now iCloud as evidence that Apple regularly tramples on the marks of others.
iCloud Communications' argues that, despite being in existence over the last six years, Apple's sheer marketing power has already dominated the minds of customers, as well as the media, causing irreparable harm to iCloud Communications' own trademark. "[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 mark 'iCloud' with Apple, rather than iCloud Communications," reads the complaint.
iCloud Communications has a point—if there's a product name that Apple wants to use, it tends to go ahead and use it and sort out the details later. With the exception of the Mighty Mouse (which eventually became the "Magic Mouse"), Apple doesn't back down after it has chosen its product names. In this case, we won't be surprised to see Apple try to settle—though the name "iCloud" has received its fair share of teasing over the last week, this is one service that Apple clearly wants its millions of iOS customers to use and is unlikely to change the name after the fact.