Just last week I wrote that Apple’s choice of the iCloud brand name “could present problems (or at least costs) for Apple to control and/or enforce.” Well…. last Thursday, iCloud Communications, LLC sued Apple for allegedly infringing its trademark. The problem for Apple is on several fronts. One is a legal challenge. Clearly the other company used the name first; the core legal issue is how strong its rights are (without a registration) and how similar Apple’s iCloud services are to those of iCloud Communications. But a more practical challenge is that Apple is already invested in and committed to the name. They have already launched it and spent great deal of time and money promoting it (in just week!) with great media coverage. In other words, Apple cannot realistically change the name without a great deal of difficulty. Another challenge for Apple is public relations: although I don’t expect this to make much of a dent on Apple’s wonderful reputation, it could be perceived that Apple just picks a brand name regardless of the law or the damage it could do to another company using the name and that Apple just presumes that it can pay off any problems or run them over. Apple should be careful if it does not want to be perceived as a trademark bully.
Note that iCloud Communications does not appear to have a US trademark application or registration. Perhaps if they did, this matter would have played out differently? I imagine it would have. They would have more leverage – and more value in a potential sale, license or other arrangement – with Apple.
Interesting paragraph from the complaint:
- Apple Insider article: iCloud Communications files lawsuit against Apple over alleged trademark infringement