The US Patent and Trademark Office has denied Dell's request to trademark the term "cloud computing," according to Sam Johnston, who has been closely tracking the Dell application process (link via The Wisdom of Clouds). Johnston says the USPTO has issued a "non-final action" that denies the application, ruling that the term cloud computing is "a descriptive term of art in the relevant industry" and also "generic in connection with the identified services and, therefore, incapable of functioning as a source-identifier for applicant's services." Dell has the option of filing a response to submit arguments to dispute the USPTO examiner's findings. See the case file here and the Aug. 12 document "Offc Action Outgoing."
Dell's move to trademark cloud computing created a storm of controversy when it became public. One reason for Dell to seek a trademark application is the fact that the company owns the domain cloudcomputing.com, which was registered on Feb. 28, 2007. The ICANN process for resolving domain name disputes has historically favored trademark holders. For additional background, see coverage from The Industry Standard, Cnet and Slashdot.