Commentary
8/4/2008
06:57 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
Commentary

Dell's Cloud Computing Trademark Play Shows Chutzpah, Hubris

Today's news reports indicate that Dell is trying to trademark the term "cloud computing." The nerve! Just because Michael Dell is very very rich doesn't mean he gets to own everything.



Today's news reports indicate that Dell is trying to trademark the term "cloud computing." The nerve! Just because Michael Dell is very very rich doesn't mean he gets to own everything.But what does Dell's arrogant linguistic skygrab mean for growing businesses that want to work in the cloud?

Well, it's probably too early to know for sure, but that's not going to stop me from going out on a limb and trying to predict the future.

As you know, bMighty takes cloud computing very seriously, and we believe it's one of the technologies helping smaller companies compete with larger enterprises. That's because cloud's computing advantages seem tailored to the needs of growing companies, and smaller companies don't have the legacy issues that will keep many enterprises from embracing the cloud.

Dell's interest in the term further validates the concept, but having one company own it won't do cloud computing any favors. Fortunately, Dell is only trying to trademark the name, not patent the concept. And I can't really blame Dell for trying. After all, bMighty's parent company has trademarked Web 2.0. Still, I don't believe Dell is doing itself -- or its customers -- any favors here.

So, I fearlessly predict that if Dell does succeed in trademarking Cloud Computing, one of two things will happen:

1. People will still continue to use the term generically and largely ignore Dell's claim. Dell can run around suing companies that slap it on products, but they can't really stop regular people -- or even journalists like me -- from using the words any way we want to.

2. People will leave "cloud computing" to Dell and simply find another term for the practice. Maybe we'll go back to calling it Managed Services, or maybe we'll call it outsourcing (I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments section.)

Either way, even is Dell successfully trademarks the the term, they're likely to end up holding on to nothing more substantial than a cloud itself.

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