Apple iCloud Faces Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

Apple's iCloud has come under fire from an Arizona company that claims the name iCloud infringes on a trademark it has held for roughly six years.

The company, iCloud Communications LLC., claimed in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona that Apple's use of the iCloud name creates confusion over competing products and the company has asked a judge to halt Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple from using the name iCloud for its cloud product.

Apple's iCloud, which is the central component of Apple's cloud strategy, was unveiled last week by Steve Jobs at WWDC 2011 in San Francisco. The Apple iCloud cloud computing service lets customers can store data like photos, music and documents in Apple's cloud and access that data from up to 10 devices.

Meanwhile, Phoenix-based iCloud Communications was formed in 2005 and offers "cloud computing products" such as computer telephony hardware and software for the transmission of e-mail, text, audio, video, photos and other content, according to iCloud Communications' complaint. iCloud Communications said in the complaint that its software and customer data are hosted in a $550,000 data center and communications hub in Phoenix.

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"The goods and services with which Apple intends to use the 'iCloud' mark are identical to or closely related to the goods and services that have been offered by iCloud Communications under the iCloud Marks since its formation in 2005," iCloud Communications wrote in the complaint. "However, due 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."

The lawsuit continued: "Upon information and belief, at the time Apple elected to adopt 'iCloud' for its cloud computing telecommunications and data services, Apple was aware of or was willfully blind to iCloud Communications' use of and rights in the iCloud Marks."

iCloud Communications further claims that it spends tens of thousands of dollars annually, and since 2005 has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, in electronic, print and other promotion for its iCloud Communications offerings in the U.S. and internationally. The company also does business via the domain

NEXT: Lawsuit Claims Apple iCloud 'Swamped' iCloud Communications Reputation

iCloud Communications claims it had use of the iCloud name long before Apple, which filed for use of iCloud with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on June 1, just five days before Jobs announced Apple's iCloud service. Similarly, Apple stated its intent to use the name iCloud with the Trademarks and Design Registration Office of the European Union on May 31.

"Apple's announcement of and the launch of its advertising campaign for its iCloud service have so thoroughly swamped the reputation of iCloud Communications and the goodwill it had built up over the years in the iCloud Marks 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," the complaint alleges. "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 suit further states: "The loss of and damage to the goodwill in the iCloud Marks, the damage to iCloud Communication's reputation and confusion among consumers is likely to continue -- and, in fact, intensify -- unless Apple is enjoined from its use of the mark 'iCloud.'"

In its lawsuit, iCloud Communications paints Apple as a chronic trademark violator, stating that "Apple has a long and well-known history of knowingly and willfully treading on the trademark rights of others." iCloud Communications highlights instances of Apple being sued by The Beatles over the Apple name, by stereo equipment maker McIntosh Labs for use of the name Macintosh, by Cisco Systems over the name iPhone and by Terrytoon over the use of "Mighty Mouse."

Apple reportedly dropped a whopping $4.5 million to buy the iCloud name and the domain from Swedish cloud storage-as-a-service player Xcerion, which has since changed the name of its own iCloud product to CloudMe.