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Dell has lost its bid to trademark the widely-used term “cloud computing”.

The computer giant had filed an application to trademark the phrase with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in March 2007.

However, according to blogger Sam Johnston, Dell’s application was officially rejected by the USPTO late last week.

In July the firm was told its request had reached the so-called “notice of allowance”. Passing the "allowance" step in the trademark process had meant that opponents could no longer object to Dell's claims.

At that point Dell might have been forgiven for thinking it was close to trademarking the cloud computing term. Then, just last week, the company’s attempt looked to have been scuppered by officials at the USPTO who had an apparent change of heart on the application.

It decided to cancel its "notice of allowance" on the Round Rock computer vendor's attempt to master the popular IT buzzword, and instead returned Dell's trademark application to show the case had "returned to examination".

Now Dell has been officially denied by the USPTO.

Johnston wrote that US trademark wonks have declared cloud computing a “generic” term because its “‘incapable of functioning as a source-identifier for applicant’s services’. This makes sense given that few of us think 'Dell' when we think of 'cloud computing', even in this context.”

Unfortunately, that decision does suggest the catch-all term will now continue to spread like wildfire among vendors keen to wrap their SaaS offerings in something fluffy. ®

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