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iCloud Communications drops trademark suit; Apple in dispute over Chinese logo

iCloud Communications has changed its name and filed for dismissal of its trademark lawsuit against Apple over its forthcoming iCloud service. Also, Apple is in the midst of a dispute against a Chinese foodstuffs company over their logos.

iCloud trademark

The Arizona company formerly known as iCloud Communications had sued Apple in June shortly after it unveiled its own iCloud service at the Worldwide Developers Conferences. The suit had alleged that Apple has "a long and well known history of knowingly and willfully treading on the trademark rights of others."

Local paper Phoenix New Times reports that the motion for voluntary dismissal with prejudice, which would prevent the company from refiling the suit, was filed on Sept. 1. The firm appears to have changed its name to Clear Digital Communications and PhoenixSoft. Its former domain has been taken down.

A reporter for the paper contacted the company, with the man who answered the phone admitting that he's not sure what the company is called. When reminded that he had answered the phone by saying "iCloud Communications," he said it was a "bad habit."

Apple first filed for the iCloud trademark in Jamaica last December, then in Europe in June just days before announcing the service.

The free iCloud service is on track to arrive this fall alongside iOS 5. It will offer cloud-based backups and syncing of media, documents and other data.

Apple logo

Sichuan, China-based Fangguo Food Co. has received a letter from the Zhucheng law firm, which represents Apple, accusing it of trademark infringement, as noted by Go Chengdoo. The company's logo depicts a circular apple, replete with leaf and stem, with the bottom left quarter missing.

Apple logo dispute
Fangguo logo, left; Apple logo, right.

"There's a leaf so you can tell it's an apple, but it also contains two Chinese characters...The orientation is also different, and ours is a totally different shape," said Fangguo CEO Zhao Yi, adding that when he started the company, he "had never even heard of Apple."

Apple's letter lodges two complaints against Fangguo. First, the resemblance between the two companies' logos. Second, Fangguo has registered its logo under 16 product categories, including categories such as "notebook computers" and "electronic-game software" that would overlap with Apple's trademark registration.

Zhao claims that he registered the logo under the broad range of categories just in case he ever met someone interested in manufacturing Fangguo computers.

Attorney Li Gousheng, who works for Zhucheng in Beijing, noted that Apple closely monitors new logo trademark applications in China. He said that the issue will be easily resolved if Fangguo removes "conflicting elements," such as the apple leaf in its logo, and withdraws its trademark registration for product categories that conflict with Apple.

But Zhao insists that the leaf is essential to the logo. "I'm Fangguo, it's a fruit, if the leaf is removed, it'll just look like a bomb," he said, adding that "the law firm who sent the letter hasn't contacted me since they sent it."

According to him, the logo was created by a design company in the 1980s before being transferred to him in 1997.