Save the Netbook Campaign is Over the Top

save-the-netbooks-campaign-fights-the-impending-trademark-threatOh, my.

Due to Psion Teklogic’s defense of their trademark on the term Netbook, an Australian group is over reacting a bit and mounting a Save the Netbook campaign. The reasons I think they are overreacting are simple really.

  • Netbooks, or whatever they end up being called in light of the Psion Teklogic issue, aren’t going to go away. Could confusion ensue? Yes. But I don’t think Netbooks are endangered.
  • Regardless of how the legal entanglements work out, the term Netbook is pretty well entrenched in the vernacular. Legally Psion may indeed win out, but the enforcement of that will be like trying to hold onto air.

I admire the efforts to bring attention to the matter, but again, I think it is a lot to do over nothing in the big picture.

Via jkonTheRun

  

Comments

  1. Save the Netbooks says

    Also from JKontherun:

    There are more important things at stake here in that it is one of the first times that the trademark system hasn’t been able to keep up with “Internet speed” on such a large scale.

    Hopefully we will be able to put this to bed fairly quickly to establish a sensible precedent. It doesn’t help that this attack is most damaging to smaller entities unable to fight for themselves, such as netbook blogs now finding themselves without income and small manufacturers/retailers.

    In any case it can’t hurt to join the join the grassroots movement, but it can certainly hurt to ignore it.

  2. Sumocat says

    “Internet speed?” Pfft. More like blogger laziness. You can’t just steal someone’s trademark then blame the trademark holder for not catching you sooner. It’s no different than if we all decided to use the name “ThinkPad” instead of notebook or laptop.

    Granted, it’s really Intel’s fault for thinking they could genericize the term. But considering it was part of a move to undercut the OLPC project’s goal of supplying laptops to children in third-world countries, infringing on a small company’s trademark wasn’t exactly the worse thing they did here.

  3. Save the Netbooks says

    @Sumocat: there is in fact significant differences as we just explained over at JKontherun where they made the “Newton” example:

    Newton is what we call an â€Ŕarbitrary” trademark in that it’s a real word used in a way that has no connection with its actual meaning. The best example of this is the word â€ŔApple” used in the context of computers. These, and â€Ŕfanciful” trademarks (like Kodak, which was invented for the purpose) are the strongest types of trademarks.

    Netbook on the other hand is descriptive in that it is a portmanteau of â€ŔInternet” and â€ŔNotebook”. As such it never should have been afforded protection in the first place.

    â€ŔNetbooks” as we know them today grew organically because consumers can quickly associate a meaning with the term, however if a â€ŔNewton” PDA came into existence tomorrow then it would clearly be trying to hang on the coat-tails of Apple’s brand.

  4. Sumocat says

    @Save the [small laptop]: You’ll notice my example was also a portmanteau, combining “think” and “notepad,” that describes a “thinking notepad.” Let’s see how it fits in your logic…

    “[ThinkPad] on the other hand is descriptive in that it is a portmanteau of “[think]” and “[notepad]“. As such it never should have been afforded protection in the first place.”

    Seems like a perfect fit to me, and more descriptive than “netbook” too. You seriously think “netbook” is descriptive? What notebook in the past ten years can’t access the Internet? Forming a portmanteau with Internet does nothing to differentiate a “netbook” from a standard notebook. Find a new argument because this one is busted.

  5. Save the Netbooks says

    Wait, ThinkPad is descriptive? You’re kidding, right? If you’d never heard of one of these before you’d have absolutely no idea what it was, and even if you realised that ‘pad’ meant ‘notepad’ in the computer (rather than paper) sense then you’d scratch your head over the ‘thinking’ part. We’ve seen some bad examples (Newton, iPod) but this one takes the cake.

    The difference between a netbook and a notebook is that they are *designed* for Internet access so they lack many of the things a notebook has to carry (a bunch of compute and storage kit for a start). They also have above average wireless connectivity (WiFi and often 3G too) and the custom software builds are being constantly tweaked to be more Internet-focused (see: Cloud OS which is basically just a browser).

    Anyway you seem quite convinced by your argument and we have a campaign to run. Leave you to it.

  6. Sumocat says

    Funny. I could have sworn the argument was yours…

    “Wait, [netbook] is descriptive? You’re kidding, right? If you’d never heard of one of these before you’d have absolutely no idea what it was, and even if you realised that ‘[book]’ meant ‘[notebook]’ in the computer (rather than paper) sense then you’d scratch your head over the ‘[net]’ part. We’ve seen some bad examples (Newton, iPod) but this one takes the cake.”

    Notice how now two of your arguments can interchangeably use either “netbook” or “ThinkPad.” Yeah, the argument is terrible, but both times, it’s been yours.

  7. Save the Netbooks says

    @Sumocat: Wait, do you even know *why* a ThinkPad is called a ThinkPad? It’s a fanciful mark that an IBM engineer invented specifically for the purpose of becoming a trademark – it wasn’t even intended to be descriptive (although that’s very creative of you to assume it expands out to “thinking notepad”). Netbook is descriptive, pure and simple – and now it’s generic too. Too bad for your mates at Psion.

  8. Sascha says

    to be honest, i am glad they started it and i glad to face the passion of this campaign.

    Warner, i have to live from blogging and of course i am making some real good money (that’s why i can’t get bought.. haha just kidding, i am glad that you guys got together with Xavier) with it. But hey, i have to travel the world to hunt down all these netbooks, wherever they are. To be on all the important shows and conferences.
    You won’t see any manufacturer sponsoring me, this is all paid by myself.

    Since google banned the term netbooks, my income went down by 50%. Since Psion started this whole legal issue thing, i was way too afraid, to launch other projects.

    I can’t step back cause my focus is on netbooks and even my domain has the term into it.

    We need to find a solution for all this cause it’s not about the little german geek blogger that i am but about a multimillion dollar market, with thousands of people involved.

Leave a Reply