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Dell Challenges Psion on Netbook Trademark

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The Netbook naming wars just heated up a bit, but I’m guessing the lawyers still want to make some money out of this. Dell has entered he fray and has filed a Petition to Cancel essentially saying that Psion Teklogix has abandoned the use of its trademark, and also throwing in a fraud charge as well. Apparently someone at Psion said they were selling everything in the trademark application in 2006 and Dell says they weren’t.

The Save the Netbook campaigners think this might be over, but I wouldn’t get too excited just yet as these things tend to go through all sorts of wrinkles before a victor is declared and the legal fees divided up.

Here’s a link (PDF) to the Dell Petition.

Via Lilliputing.

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

3 Comments

  1. Save the Netbooks

    02/19/2009 at 8:15 am

    You only need to be successful on one claim to have a trademark overturned and yet in addition to abandonment and fraud it would be impossible for them to claim that the word ‘netbook’ is (or indeed, ever was) a source identifier for Psion Teklogix. Basically, they’re stuffed.

    Nobody in their right mind would take action with a mark that’s pending cancellation and with a month to go before their self-imposed deadline is up and 6 months until the cancelation is dispensed with there’s not much they can do now but watch the industry grow around them.

    Furthermore, even if they do dust of the blueprints and bring out a netbook they’ve managed to piss off pretty much the entire netbook community, including those that might have previously written rather favourable reviews for the company.

    STN

  2. GoodThings2Life

    02/19/2009 at 8:27 am

    Woohoo! Go Dell! :)

    Psion can take their so-called patent and shove it up their rectal cavities.

    I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again… you can’t stand in front of a train, allow it to hit you, and then try to sue them for getting hurt.

  3. Sumocat

    02/19/2009 at 10:25 am

    Dell’s tactical approach with this is both smart and fragile. On one hand, they clearly recognize what they need. On the other hand, they’re trying to get it by throwing a very large net on a small target. Could work, but it’s not as overwhelming as it might seem.

    First, they’re seeking cancellation of the trademark. Can’t cancel something unless it already exists, like a subscription or plane ticket, so they’ve basically admitted Psion currently holds the trademark and are seeking to undo that. It’s a considerably more intelligent and reality-based approach than arguments others have made.

    However, the argument set forth in the petition is stretched pretty thin. Their first basis for cancellation, abandonment, won’t stand by itself. It doesn’t list when the mark was abandoned, and so does not argue the typical three or five year period between abandonment and cancellation has lapsed. Instead they support it with the second basis, fraud.

    They base this largely on what they claim is the use of an outdated advertisement. However, the Wayback Machine shows Psion was advertising the Netbook Pro on their website through June 2006. If they were conducting business with resellers and customers of the Netbook Pro through November, they could argue against this point. This could be make or break for them.

    The third basis, genericness, seems indisputable. Clearly the mark is being used generically. However, this is not the typical case where a trademarked term grows into an eponymous generic. There was intent on the part of Intel to genericize the name by spreading it through the media with cooperation from other companies. This will be the point to watch. Can a trademark be canceled through intentional genericide? I understand why Dell launched this salvo, but it might sink their petition. It will be interesting to see how sides will be drawn around this point. Can’t say they won me over, but kudos to them for giving me something to think about.

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