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The Netbook Naming Wars: Intel Sues Psion



msiiwindthumb Looks like Dell has some company in fighting with Psion over the Netbook name trademark issue. Intel has finally spoken out and it is in the form of a lawsuit against Psion. I guess this is a matter of timing, as Engadget says that Intel filed its suit prior to Dell’s. Even so, the claims are essentially the same that the term Netbook has become generic and Psion has been out of production since 2003.

Let’s just hope the legal fees don’t have an effect on prices.

Via Electronista



  1. Sumocat

    02/25/2009 at 7:34 am

    The plot thickens. While I personally don’t care whether everyone uses Intel’s chosen name for the category or VIA’s, the “genericness” argument has wide-reaching repercussions.

    Intel chose a registered trademark as their name for the category and are now arguing it’s in generic use, leaving out the fact that they put it into generic use. Does it seem wrong to anyone else that Intel’s justification for destroying a registered trademark is that it’s been destroyed? And now they’re suing the trademark holder for, what? Defending their trademark?

    That’s like burning down someone’s house then claiming it’s okay because the house is already burning down, leaving out the fact that you’re burning it down, and then suing the homeowner for trying to stop you from burning down his house. I love their products and technology, but this is a terrible abuse of power by Intel. I don’t think Psion (or any other small trademark holder) can withstand it.

  2. Sam Johnston

    02/25/2009 at 9:12 am

    Things are definitely starting to heat up. As you know I’m not so fast to pin this one on Intel in that I’d be more inclined to put it down to negligence (not searching TESS) than deliberate “genericide” (which sounds a lot nastier than it actually is). Technically the trademark was abandoned when Intel started on it (thanks in no small part to the restricted nature of the registration itself), and that’s not forgetting that Internet + Notebook = Netbook is at best suggestive but more likely descriptive and therefore (should be) unprotectable anyway.

    What I do care about is that if Psion wins it would be like winning the lotto (in that it’s pure luck rather than blood, sweat and tears on their behalf) and the losers would include pretty much all the other manufacturers and ultimately us consumers.

    If you read the filing you can see there was an exchange in the preceeding days; maybe they felt that going on the offense was the best form of defense?

    I think canceling the trademark without awarding damages would be the fairest outcome for everyone but IANAL so I’m not sure how likely that will be.


  3. Sumocat

    02/25/2009 at 9:36 am

    Sam, the whole point of having a registry is so companies can check to see if a name is trademarked. If Intel didn’t check, that’s gross negligence. That’s like hitting someone with your car then pleading innocence because you were driving with your eyes closed. Not looking is not an excuse.

    As for the validity of Psion’s trademark, that’s a separate matter. If the trademark gets canceled on the basis of its contents, that’s fine. But the genericness argument is insulting to anyone who’s been following the “netbook” news since Intel (re)introduced the name.

  4. Gordon Cahill

    02/25/2009 at 4:37 pm

    Maybe they did check. And maybe they decided, after their own investigations, that the trademark had been abandoned and decided to use the term.

    And maybe I’ll win the lottery……


  5. Tom

    02/25/2009 at 6:56 pm

    Check this – if they were selling netbooks in 2009 as they claim then Intel and Dell just lost….

  6. Sumocat

    02/26/2009 at 9:23 am

    Don’t go claiming victory just yet. If Psion can back up their claims with sales receipts, then their hold is still viable, but they can still be crushed by litigation and legal fees. What they really need is a customer, like Glazer’s Distributors, to attest that they still deliver new units to existing customers. They may have pulled their Netbook Pro from retail, but B2B sales are still sales.

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