Clouding the Cloud Computing Issue - InformationWeek
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Software // Information Management
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8/5/2008
06:10 PM
Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
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Clouding the Cloud Computing Issue

What's common between one-click purchasing and cloud computing? Ponder that a moment. If you haven't guessed it already,the former was assigned a ridiculous patent, and now the latter is on its way to an equally unwelcome trade mark... The phrase "cloud computing" is being claimed as trade mark by, who would have guessed...

What's common between one-click purchasing and cloud computing? Ponder that a moment. If you haven't guessed already, the former was assigned a ridiculous patent, and now the latter is on its way to an equally unwelcome trade mark.

Intellectual property protection, in the form of patents and trade marks, has long been hailed as a cornerstone of healthy capitalism. Unfortunately, it has also demonstrated the propensity to be a roadblock in the way of healthy capitalism. The classic example is, of course, Amazon's controversial "one-click" patent, which was, amazingly, expanded and then apparently (and thankfully) rejected by the USPTO.Now, the phrase "cloud computing" is being claimed as trade mark by... Amazon? Cisco? Google? IBM? Microsoft? SalesForce? All wrong; the correct answer is Dell.

As reported in InformationWeek, Dell last year introduced a new cloud computing business called Dell Cloud Computing Solutions, aimed at providing hardware, consulting and planning for Web companies that require highly scalable data centers. Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell recently told BusinessWeek that cloud computing would soon be a $1 billion business for the company.

According to the InformationWeek article, Dell's trademark filing is for computer and networking hardware design, customization and development as well as consulting services for "data centers and mega-scale computing environments." The filing, published in April 2007, is now in the "notice of allowance" stage, which means it has been approved but not yet formally registered. Apparently, the application has already passed the period when opponents could come out against it, but it's possible the trademark could still be rejected if found that someone else used it before Dell's filing date or if the term was in popular general use.

I, for one, sincerely hope that Dell backs off the TM application, or that someone steps up to prove beyond doubt that the phrase was already in use earlier (apparently, and thankfully, there are already indications that such is the case). I'm simply not ready to consider "cloud computing" as somebody's proprietary concept (or even term), any more that I would want to think of "Internet" or "fault tolerance" or "data warehousing" as proprietary terms.

The thing is, it's simply too early for us to zoom in on a single etched-in-stone definition for cloud computing. It is fascinating to watch cloud computing evolve and find its way to a (more or less) universally agreed interpretation - not totally unlike watching a child's personality develop - and it would be very disappointing to tow any one definition of cloud computing just yet.What's common between one-click purchasing and cloud computing? Ponder that a moment. If you haven't guessed it already,the former was assigned a ridiculous patent, and now the latter is on its way to an equally unwelcome trade mark... The phrase "cloud computing" is being claimed as trade mark by, who would have guessed...

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