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Cheers - AE

Thursday, 16 June 2011

iCloud? Never heard of them.

Yep, them, being iCloud Communications, a Phoenix AZ based company offering VOIP services, rather than iCloud, the latest wheeze that the revered St Jobs has brought down from the holy Apple mountain. Obviously I've heard of that iCloud - I have a Mac and I'm not in a coma. But the other iCloud? Nope, and I still wouldn't have known about them but for one thing: they say Apple nicked their name.
The lawsuit, filed last week in an Arizona US District Court, argues that Apple's use of iCloud is trademark infringement on the name of iCloud, a VoIP (Internet phone service) and cloud services company founded in the US state of Phoenix in 2005.
The company also says in its suit that Apple knew that iCloud Communications held the trademark on the iCloud name, but used it anyway and in doing so, has hurt its use of the name.
Well, it's no doubt buggered up their SEO as googling iCloud at the moment gets you mostly Apple stuff, iCloud Communications having been pushed off the valuable first page of results, although for the zillions of people who leave Google's Instant 'save yourself literally microseconds of your time' predictive search feature that might not be such a big deal.

See? iCloud Communications still appears above iCloud Apple, so no big deal unless you think your potential customers are so dribblingly moronic that they can't tell which is which and might accidentally buy Apple's online file and music cloud service when what they were looking for was a VOIP provider. And if you do think your customers are thick enough to confuse those two things I'd say you have bigger problems than someone else using a very similar name.

"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 internet calling firm said in its complaint. "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."
And at the time iCloud Communications chose their name Apple had been i-prefixing things for seven years. I suppose the choice to use an i-prefix to name a VOIP provider had nothing to Apple having already popularised it?

Not that I would want anyone to think I'm taking Apple's side. Both my readers should know by now that I tend to think of them as a shower of cunts who make some pretty good desktop computers, some portable devices and peripherals that fall in every category from mediocre to brilliant, and some absolutely shithouse mice.* And they're not above a little self-indulgent lawsuit wankery themselves, as I have blogged previously.
... Apple have mounted a legal challenge to Woolworths over the use of the logo, and according to The Age they say it's too close to theirs. So let's look at them again in detail.

Both have a kind of 3D effect going on, and both have a leafy thing at the top leaning to the right. But while one is silvery and solid, has a two tone effect, a drop shadow and is shaped like an apple that someone's taken a bite out of the other is green, has smooth tone changes, no drop shadow and is shaped like some apple peel that has been arranged in a shape reminiscent of the letter W. It's also not entirely unlike something I had to bag earlier today after the dog curled one out in the local park, but fortunately for him not green. If Apple want to sue the dog, which given everyone else they've gone to court with they might do, they're welcome to get in touch with me via the comments section or something. As far as I'm concerned the mutt is on his own if he's going to start shitting out trademark infringements, but I ought to mention that his net worth is a few disintegrating lamb bones buried around the garden and since the offending (in more ways than one) item has been destroyed and appeared accidental as he seemed to pay no attention to arranging it in a particular shape it seems like it's unlikely to be worth the effort. And being just a dog it's unlikely he intended using it the way Apple fears Woolworths will use their logo:
Woolworths' application includes a wide class for electrical goods and technology, putting it in direct competition with Apple should the retailer choose to brand computers, music players or other devices.
Do fucking what? First off, does Apple think that Woolworths are going to do a Tesco and start selling electronic goods bearing in mind that Woolworths is just the supermarket brand of Woolworths Ltd, that the group already has a dedicated consumer electronics chain called Dick Smith Electronics, and that Dick Smith already fucking sell Apple computers? Seems unlikely. But let's just say for the sake of argument that Woolies do start doing computers, MP3 players and snazzy phones and that all of these carry a green W that looks a lot like apple peel. That brings up the second point: do Apple think that we're all so moronic we'd be unable to tell the difference? Even if Woolworths went so far as to make something like a notebook computer with an all aluminium case and a glass screen and trackpad nobody would confuse it for a MacBook because, and I think I may have mentioned this already, the logos are fuck all alike. Not only that but also the MacBook will have OS X installed on it while what we might call the WoolBook will almost certainly come with whatever edition of Windows is around at the time.

So what's the fucking problem, Apple?
So it's hard for me to feel too much sympathy with either party in this case. In my non-expert opinion iCloud Communication are taking the piss just as much as Apple were when they went after Woolworth's, and for that matter when Apple the Beatles's music company sued Apple the computer making company for much the same reason. For Christ's sakes, lawyers, we're not all stupid. We can tell the two things apart. I can understand a company getting all litigious if someone else in the same market starts using the same or almost the same name and with very similar looking trademarks, if Hungry Jack's launched a Big Mac burger for example or if Nikon cameras rebranded themselves to Cannon I could understand and sympathise with McDonald's and Canon getting bent out of shape about it. But so often this is no more than the corporate equivalent of schoolyard willy-waving and yelling "I thought of it first!" before running off to find teacher, with the nasty additional aspect of trying to wring money out of another company which isn't necessarily even a competitor.

Grow the fuck up, the lot of you.

* The old one button jobs were ludicrous at a time when everyone else had at least two and a wheel, if not more; the Mighty Mouse had an all directions scroll wheel on the top which, being effectively an upside down trackball, clogged up and jammed with annoying regularity - it also got confused about whether you were right or left clicking from time to time; the Magic Mouse seemed to me like it would make the back of my hand ache after a while, on top of which it's useless if your computer doesn't have Bluetooth and costs as much as the superior (though also Bluetooth) Magic Touchpad - IMO Apple's first pointing device that does not appear to have been conceived by a complete iDiot. Seriously, as a long term Mac user my first piece of advice to any Mac virgin who's just about to unpack their new Mac unless they got it with a Trackpad is to stop, get back in the car, return to the store and buy another mouse.
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