(PHOENIX) -- When you name your company after something as common as an apple, and many of your products after common words preceded by the letter "i" -- iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc. -- you're eventually bound to run into someone who's had a similar idea.
So it is that Apple, Inc., perhaps one of history's most successful marketers of consumer technology, has been sued by iCloud Communications, a Phoenix company that provides telephone services over the Internet. ICloud Communications says Apple's newly-announced iCloud storage service for music, pictures and other content infringes on its trademark, and already has had confused customers calling to see if it had been bought by Apple.
It's not the first time Apple has been in this position. In 2007 when it announced the iPhone, it turned out the name was already owned by Cisco Systems, Inc. Even the name Apple has been contentious; it was most famously used as a record label by a little rock group called The Beatles.
"Apple's announcement and launch of its 'iCloud' cloud computing service appears to be just one more example of Apple's 'act first and worry about the consequences later' approach to trademark use," said iCloud Communications in its legal filing. "Even the most cursory Internet search -- which could have easily been conducted by any of the legion of Apple's in-house marketing or legal staff -- would have revealed the prior, long term usage of the iCloud Marks by iCloud Communications."
Is this really part of Apple's standard operating procedure? Tim Bajarin, a veteran Apple watcher at Creative Stratagies, Inc., came to the company's defense.
"Apple has been working on the back end of iCloud for five years," he said. "They already bought the name [for the iCloud website] from an online storage service in Sweden."
"Until the 'i' era, the only issue they ever had was the one with Apple Records," Bajarin said.
ICloud Communications and Apple did not immediately return several messages. In the meantime, ABC News did a search and could not find a record showing iCloud Communications had trademarked the word "iCloud."
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