Arizona Company Claims Infringement of ‘iCloud’ Trademark by Apple

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PHOENIX—A trademark-infringement case filed here in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona by a Phoenix-based company claims the firm has the “iCloud” trademark that Apple Inc. is using to promote its new storage system for pictures, e-mail, and music iCloud Communications LLC v. Apple Inc.,D. Ariz., CV-01158-DGC, complaint filed 6/9/11).

The company, iCloud Communications, is seeking an injunction against Apple's use of the iCloud name, as well as an unspecified amount of monetary compensation.

A spokesman for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple did not immediately respond to a request from BNA for comment.

Meanwhile, a court date has yet to be set in the case, attorney Robert J. Itri, one of two attorneys representing iCloud Communications, told BNA June 14. He declined further comment.

Complaint: Alleged Infringement Violates Trademark Use

The complaint, filed June 9, is based on alleged federal unfair competition and false designation of origin, in violation of Section 43 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1125(a).

It also alleged Arizona state trademark infringement, unfair competition, and injury to business reputation, in violation of Arizona common law.

According to the complaint, “cloud computing’’ generally refers to applications and services offered over the Internet. The cloud reference derives from the cloud image used to represent the Internet in computer network diagrams, and is a simplification of the complex series of network connections and systems involved in online services. Any user with an Internet connection can access the so-called cloud and the services it provides.

The complaint states that iCloud Communications was formed in 2005 and provides, among other cloud-computing products and services, computer telephony (telecommunication) hardware and software for the electronic transmission of e-mail, text, audio, video, photos, information, data, video conferencing, virtual video conferencing, and other content via the internet and wireless data networks

The complaint states that since 2005, iCloud Communications has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in regional, national, international, electronic, print, and other advertising to promote its goods and services using the iCloud logo.

The company says in the complaint it has customers located throughout North America, South America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Apple Use Creates Confusion, Complaint States

Apple announced the launch of its new cloud computing telecommunications and data storage platform, “iCloud,’’ on June 6.

Since the announcement, iCloud Communications stated in the complaint, its reputation and goodwill “have been so thoroughly swamped … that is likely to cause, and has actually caused, confusion among consumers of cloud computing services and members of the general public as to the source of the parties' goods and services.’’

“In fact, iCloud Communications has received numerous inquiries from both existing and prospective customers regarding whether it is now owned or affiliated with Apple,’’ the complaint stated.

Company: Apple Has History of Treading on Trademarks

Moreover, the company stated, Apple has “a long and well known history of knowingly and willfully treading on the trademark rights of others.’’

It cited the lawsuits brought by The Beatles over the use of the Apple name; by Cisco Systems over the use of the iPhone name, and; by Terrytown over the use of “Mighty Mouse’’ for computing devices.

By William H. Carlile

The complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona can be read here: .