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Going Dumb Over Smartbook Trademark

me.jpgWe’ve blogged about the Smartbook trademark controversy before. The deal is that a German company, Smartbook AG, has the trademark and wants to protect it. Consequently, this means they’ve been clamping down on manufacturers and media who use it to describe that generation of mobile devices that are just starting to surface after a long run up. Now it seems, via our friend Sascha Pallenberg of Netbooknews.de that they are pressuring bloggers worldwide from using the trademarked name as well.

So here we go again. It seems that the german company Smartbook has the trademark and copyright on the term “smartbook” and like the Psion/Intel netbook issue, these guys are choosing the same way of communicating with bloggers and webmasters. Yesterday i got a letter from a german lawyer telling me, that i have 2 weeks to get rid of the term smartbook on Netbooknews.de and Netbooknews.com.

TechCrunch is running an article about this that basically indicates what this is all about: money. Yeah, the attorney says they’d be willing to sell it. This happens regularly of course, but in my naive view of the world, even with laws that require a trademark owner to aggressively protect trademarks, we’d all be better off if this  legal method of extortion didn’t exist.

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One Comment

  1. Sumocat

    11/25/2009 at 12:29 pm

    Warner, I must disagree with the extortion characterization, at least as it applies to Smartbook AG. They are the legal trademark holder. Everything they’re doing is above board. The party that flaunted the law should be taken to task, and that appears to be Qualcomm.

    Rather than trying to claim the term, they sidestepped the law by genericizing it, destroying it rather than stealing it. Because Qualcomm isn’t stealing the trademark, Smartbook AG can’t go after them to reclaim it. Because it’s been put into common usage, there’s no one party to pin down for the trademark’s destruction. Qualcomm got the ball rolling, but once it’s out there, it’s the usage by many parties that actually destroys the trademark. Basically, Qualcomm crowdsourced the trademark’s destruction.

    This leaves Smartbook AG with two choices: go after those who are destroying the trademark or let it get destroyed, which is a matter of go after everyone or go after no one. Of course, since they are legally obligated to protect the mark, they don’t really have a choice. Thus, they get spread thin chasing after the crowd, public opinion gets turned against them, and Qualcomm skates away without a mention. Pretty darn slick, right?

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