Dell's attempt to trademark the "cloud computing" term has been thwarted today, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sending them a non-final refusal of their application. The company's grip on the popular IT buzzword seemed solid at first, but their application was updated yesterday from an "allowance" step in the trademark process to a "returned to examination" state.

Apparently, officials at the USPTO had a change of heart on the application and now claim "cloud computing" is merely a generic industry term that is "incapable of functioning as a source-identifier for applicant's services." This is good news for dozens of other vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, and Google, which would have probably had to find another term to promote their services in order to avoid messy lawsuits.

Dell has six months to submit evidence or arguments in response to the USPTO's decision before it is made final.