Dell Explains Cloud-Computing Trademark Attempt

The computer maker can appeal the Patent Office's rejection of its trademark application for the commonly used term

August 29, 2008

2 Min Read
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Dell, which recently suffered a setback in trying to get approval for "cloud computing" as a trademark, says its use of the term would be limited only to customized hardware.

Andy Rhodes, head of global marketing for Dell's datacenter solutions division, said the idea to trademark such a commonly used industry term stemmed from Dell's purchase of the domain name, which takes the visitor to its datacenter solutions Web site.

"[The trademark process] was something we did when we bought," Rhodes told reporters on Tuesday.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a preliminary rejection of Dell's request, saying the term was too generic to be acceptable as a trademark. The term cloud computing is used in the industry to describe services Internet companies provide to businesses and consumers. The services can range from online backup and office productivity applications to software-as-a-service offerings that encompass CRM and sales-force automation.

To help understand how companies use cloud computing, InformationWeek has published an independent report on the subject. Download the report here (registration required).Rhodes said Dell wanted to use the trademark only on hardware customized for specific customers, not on its general product line. The term would identify the hardware as a tailored product for a cloud-computing environment.

Dell has yet to make a decision whether to appeal the Patent Office's decision, which was published this month, Rhodes said. Dell has six months to appeal.

Dell executives met with reporters in downtown San Francisco to discuss the technological demands of cloud computing. Joining the computer maker was Jonathan Heiliger, VP of technical operations for online social network Facebook.

While discussing cloud computing in general, Heiliger declined to give specific details of Facebook's environment, which supports more than 100 million active users. He also refused to say how many of the company's 10,000 servers are Dell machines.

By hosting these types of events, Dell is trying to establish itself as an innovator in particular emerging technologies. The computer maker is best known as a supplier of low-cost commodity hardware, and hopes to become better known as a supplier of infrastructure technology and services for building datacenters.Antone Gonsalves, InformationWeek

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