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Netbooks Popular Enough For a C&D From Psion

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the real-mark-of-success dept.

Portables 234

Kevin C. Tofel writes "After watching the netbook industry explode from nothing to 14 million sales in year, the time is right for Cease & Desist letters. Psion, a UK computer company that years ago sold a small sub-notebook called a netBook, is starting to protect the term. At least one netbook enthusiast site received a C&D for using the 'netbook' term and others are sure to follow. The site was given three months to stop using the term. Ironically, it isn't the enthusiast sites that coined the popular term. In the spring of 2008, Intel dubbed these devices netbooks to help define a market for their low-powered Intel Atom CPU."

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Jerks. (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225521)

Makes me ashamed that I used one of their handheld models as the configuration tool for an industrial data acquisition system I used to sell. Lawyers are going to get this civilization so wrapped up in red tape that progress is impossible.

Re:Jerks. (5, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225581)

Hey uh, unlike patent and trademark trolls, apparently Psion are still using the trademark, which they did come up with on their own before anyone else.

The only jerks here are you and your knee.

--
BMO

Re:Jerks. (3, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225655)

But they didn't protect it until now.

Re:Jerks. (3, Interesting)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225861)

Maybe there wasn't a need until now.

Re:Jerks. (3, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226233)

That's not how it works.

Re:Jerks. (5, Informative)

Gerald (9696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226193)

Not publicly. My experience has been:

1) Notice (or be notified of) a copyright or trademark offense.

2) Try to contact the company.

3) Get a reply from person 1 who:

    a) Doesn't have the power to fix anything.

    and/or

    b) Doesn't care.

4) Go back and forth with person 1 for a few months.

5) Deal with person 2..n who:

    a) Took over for person n-1 when they:

        i) Quit.
        ii) Went on vacation or maternity leave.

    b) Is person n-1's supervisor or someone from a completely different department in another time zone (and who can't change anything or doesn't care).

This goes on for several months until I send an angry certified letter to the president of the company or hand the matter over to my lawyer.

It's quite possible that Psion are a gaggle of jerks. It's also possible that they've been trying to get this resolved privately with no joy.

Re:Jerks. (1)

tzot (834456) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226301)

Thank you for providing an example of common logic which seems to be very, very rare on slashdot.

Re:Jerks. (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225663)

Maybe ... but I didn't call you any bad names. So I guess this qualifies you for jerkhood as well.

Re:Jerks. (3, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225765)

Read that again. This time with emphasis on the words jerk and knee.

Re:Jerks. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226065)

Read that again. This time with emphasis on the words jerk and knee.

Yeah ok. Too much Bailey's in my coffee (hey it is Christmas Eve here.)

Re:Jerks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26226073)

It's a double entendre.

Re:Jerks. (3, Insightful)

base3 (539820) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225667)

No they're not--they used to use it, and it's a sufficiently generic term that they're going to lose their trademark anyway (except for maybe the sort of camel-case variation). From the summary (emphasis mine)

that years ago sold a small sub-notebook called a netBook

Re:Jerks. (2, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225741)

it's a sufficiently generic term that they're going to lose their trademark anyway

How do you figure? I'd never heard the word before Intel started tossing it around. It might be generic now, but I imagine that's one of their arguments in the suit.

Re:Jerks. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225901)

FWIW, the first thing I thought when intel started using the word was "Huh? did they buy psion"?

Though I'm in Europe where Psion for a long time was where Palm was in the US in the PDA market. Maybe psion are/were much better known over here. Symbian used in many, many phones is also a direct descendant of the EPOC32 OS that the Psion netbook ran.

Re:Jerks. (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226161)

Seems a pretty natural compound of "net" and "notebook" and thus generic. I'd never even heard of the Psion product until they came out of the woodwork with their claims after the term was in wide use as a generic diminutive notebook intended to mainly access network resources.

Re:Jerks. (5, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226319)

Seems a pretty natural compound of "net" and "notebook" and thus generic.

"Coca-Cola" seems like a pretty natural compound of "coca" and "cola", but good look getting that one invalidated.

"Netbook" is clearly an invented word, even if its etymology is obvious. There are millions of trademarks that you and I haven't heard of that are perfectly valid and legitimate, and it sounds like this is one of them.

Re:Jerks. (2, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225979)

Their loss, a trademark that becomes a generic term is pretty much lost.

Re:Jerks. (0)

berend botje (1401731) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226037)

Tell that to the Coca Cola company.

Re:Jerks. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226127)

Cola is a generic term. Coke and Coca Cola are not.

Re:Jerks. (2, Informative)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226231)

Tell that to the south where you can order an orange coke or a grape coke or a mountain dew coke...

Re:Jerks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26226309)

Sorry, but I live in the South, the home of Coca Cola actually (Atlanta) and I have never heard anyone (in the 16 years I've been here) use the phrase Mountain Dew Coke. Haven't actually heard orange coke or grape coke either, usually orange/grape soda or orange/grape cola or orange/grape drink. Southerns actually use Coke to mean Coca Cola, everything else is just soda.

Re:Jerks. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225627)

Lawyers are going to get this civilization so wrapped up in red tape that progress is impossible.

Uh DUH!!! That's the whole fucking point. It's called solidification of power for a reason. Lawyers are the new Lords of today. Only they can control what the serfs may or may not do.

Re:Jerks. (1)

decoy256 (1335427) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226137)

Riiiight... it's the LAWYERS' fault... and it has nothing to do with people who just like to bitch and moan and want something for nothing.

Re:Jerks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225845)

Not really. Lawyers, in the end, don't build bombs and guns. Engineers do. Guess who's gonna win if lawyers get too uppity?

Re:Jerks. (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226007)

The people who can afford to pay engineers and the material used to make said weapons? (AKA, lawyers)

Re:Jerks. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226079)

Cool people call them "Liliputers" anyway. http://www.liliputing.com/ [liliputing.com]

Re:Jerks. (2, Informative)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226299)

Psion used to be a wonderful company with innovative software and hardware engineering, and excellent customer service. Back when the Sharp Wizard and Casio BOSS were the (dismal) state of the art in pocketable computers, they leveraged their expertise in industrial data-collection devices to produce a vastly superior (but inadequately marketed) handheld computer called the Series3. The rock-solid software they developed was the basis for the Symbian OS that runs so many smartphones today. I was a very pleased user and promoter of the Series3 and its successor the Revo/Mako, which I nursed along for years after they stopped making them, since no other solution available (e.g. Palm, WinCE, RIM) was as powerful and easy to use. (I finally gave up and got an iPod Touch earlier this year.) And as a matter of fact, they did create one of the first "netbooks" as we know them today (a Symbian-based device which they called... the "netBook") well before Asus et al did.

But the netBook is no more... and the same can be said of the Psion I just described.

Why on earth does is this stuff still legal? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225523)

Honestly, does anyone know? This is just stupid and it completely inhibits progress.

Re:Why on earth does is this stuff still legal? (5, Insightful)

raburton (1281780) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225589)

> Honestly, does anyone know? This is just stupid and it completely inhibits progress.

Patents maybe, but how on earth does a trademark stop progress?

And for that matter what wrong with trademarks? Sure, in this case they aren't doing a lot with the brand, but they coined the term, registered it properly years ago and used it for products that these new ones are very similar to. The potential for confusion is there, especially if psion might be planning on making further use of their brand.

This appears to be trademark law working as it's designed to, so while this is an interesting story, it doesn't seem like one we should all be whining about.

Re:Why on earth does is this stuff still legal? (2, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226155)

But I didn't for one minute think Psion was making these things. I was quite aware that Asus, Elonex, HP, Toshiba, Acer etc were making them.

Re:Why on earth does is this stuff still legal? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226355)

But I didn't for one minute think Psion was making these things. I was quite aware that Asus, Elonex, HP, Toshiba, Acer etc were making them.

They were, and apparently sold a lot of them. They might want to again some day and it looks like they've done the legal homework to call them "netBook (r)" to the exclusion of everyone else.

Netbook -- where is the net? (1)

ACMENEWSLLC (940904) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226169)

Laptop - fits in your lap. Good term. That's where mine is often.

Netbook - ummm? So it has a network, so does everything. I never did like this term anyway. How about Palmtop? Oh, yea -- Palm(tm) so how about Petitetop? Yes, I do like that :)

Re:Why on earth does is this stuff still legal? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225889)

Because taking everything into consideration, current trademark law is probably the absolute bottom of the barrel worst law in the US. Even the USA PATRIOT Act could be justified if library records actually were linked to terrorism somehow, and who knows, maybe the warrantless wiretaps saved New York from nuclear devastation and Bush is just too bashful to admit that he did something right. But trademark law cripples everything it touches, except for the lawyers who wrote and legislated it in the first place.

First off on the ownership side, trademark dilution is bullshit. 100% Grade F extra-runny bullshit. Lego and Google should not be punished just because I play with Legos or Google for information about the weird sores I get. Any law that punishes the company because other people don't want to have to sit around and write out "Lego(TM) brand building blocks" is such blatant shit that the lawyers who thought it up must own stock in rubber wader manufacturers.

Secondly, requiring the trademark owners to sue everything that moves in order to keep their trademark is bullshit. If you use the Brand X trademark to sell your product and you aren't Brand X, then by all means: be sued into oblivion. But I think I stand for the trademark owners AND the golf courses of the world when I say that having to fuck over your reputation and shell out the cash for lawsuits just so that your trademark isn't revoked is bullshit. Don't tell the lawyers that though, they'll have some lame excuse beyond "but that's how I get paaiiiiiidddd!!1!" that will probably take half your afternoon to listen to, and then you'll get the bill in the mail the next week.

Finally, allowing companies to sue people who are not producing any product based on trademark goes beyond ridiculous. I have no idea what Psion's problem is (is their "netBook" not getting enough attention on these sites? Maybe they should send in a review copy!) but taking it out on people who aren't selling anything that anyone is calling a "netbook" is pointless and does more harm than good.

So now, what to do? I propose that we fix trademark law to do what it was intended to do: prevent people from selling goods (or providing services, see service mark) using a registered name. And that's it. How do we do it? Well, I propose we start by picking an enemy nation with an active volcano and throwing all the trademark lawyers into it. When the fire god gets angry we'll have killed two birds with one stone. Then we'll have to break whatever various treaties that force all of the nations of the world to participate in this farce. Then we pass a new law that gives companies the power to 1) Register brand names and service marks, provided that the brand name is not the name of the product (no Computer-brand computers or Operating System OS!) 2) expire brand names when they have not been used for a number of years and 3) Sue and/or obtain injunctions against people who produce products or provide services using that trademark or service mark within that field. And not a single word more.

Re:Why on earth does is this stuff still legal? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226187)

Honestly, does anyone know? This is just stupid and it completely inhibits progress.

Why? Nobody is going to take my eeepc from my cold dead hands.

Re:Why on earth does is this stuff still legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26226321)

Your definition of progress is intriguing. I'd rather they trademarked all those dumb buzzwords now. WTF is a "netbook" anyway? If that word made any sense it would be something like that ugly Amazon ebook reader, a book connected to the internet. Not a small portable general purpose computer.

"Organizer" (1)

bittmann (118697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225565)

Next thing you know, they'll sic their lawyers on folks selling "organizers".

It's really Psion's trademark (5, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225597)

If you search here [uspto.gov] for the term "Netbook", 18 entries come up, one of which is a live trademark assigned to Psion. It's interesting that neither Intel nor the various manufacturers and retailers marketing computers under the term "netbook" took the trouble to do this simple web search.

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225657)

I guess we'll just have to call them by what they were called once before:

Plamtops or Subnotebooks. I always found the moniker "netbook" to be a rather awkward term. Too many people still ask what a netbook is when I show it to them and they ask me what it is. I say "Netbook", that is met with blank stares.

Subnotebook accurately describes what it is but has the added benefit of being immediately understood.

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (2, Insightful)

EdotOrg (18710) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225739)

"Subnotebook accurately describes what it is but has the added benefit of being immediately understood."

Correct on the first part, incorrect on the second. You may be too close to the technology, but Average Joe (plumber or not) would respond with a blank stare if asked about a "subnotebook".

What, is that the part underneath the regular notebook?

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26226059)

Duh, it's obviously a notebook specially designed for use on submarines.

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225775)

I heard a lot of people throwing around Ultra-Mobile PC, or UMPC.

Up next: what do you call tiny, flash-based USB drives?

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226171)

Most people I know call them Memory Sticks, even though they are nothing like the things Sony make.

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (1)

hguorbray (967940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226329)

thumb drives is the popular name for usb sticks

I still think of drives as a rotating media, but it seems the term will transfer to new media thanks to SSHDs and so forth

Sony's memory sticks lost out when the thumbdrives hit 1GB and got real cheap and were further undermined by the widespread adoption of flash by cell and camera manufacturers -plus I'm not sure they were adopted by many 3rd parties

-I'm just sayin'

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226077)

Plamtops or Subnotebooks.

Would they be running PlamOS?

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26226165)

A: "What's that?"

B: "A netbook."

A: "Oh. What's a netbook?"

B: "This."

A: "Oh. What's that?"

(A gets beaten to death with a netbook.)

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225719)

Of which, one of those dead entries was a trademark for a surprisingly similar thing, intended for the K-12 market...

Lot of wiggle room (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226153)

Their netbooks were basically overglorified organizers. These netbooks are fully-functional PCs in small packages, an arguably different market segment.

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (0)

ishobo (160209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226333)

I think Psion has not used netbook in trade for over five years. If true, the mark is considered abandoned.

Re:It's really Psion's trademark (2, Informative)

yog (19073) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226363)

I agree with the parent. Psion PLC previously developed a product called the "netBook", although it is no longer in production. However a sister company or umbrella company "Psion Teklogix" [psionteklogix.com] appears to have a current product that uses the "netBook" name. Maybe someone else can tease out exactly what these companies have in common, but at any rate the term appears to be a valid trademark that is in current use.

Unfortunately for them, it has also become a common term and they may have trouble holding on to it. A similar situation occurred in the late 1980s for those old enough to remember: a PC manufacturer trademarked the term "Tower" as in Tower PC, an upright form factor for (what we used to call) IBM compatibles. The term quickly spread and the manufacturer threatened to sue several other PC makers. I remember that one in particular changed their product from "Tower 286" to "Power 286". (Yeah, I'm old :)) Needless to say, "tower" stuck as a common term and that company lost control of it.

This is not as egregious as someone trying to co-opt the term "google" or "xerox" for commercial gain, even though these words have nonetheless become household terms. Actually, about 20 years ago Xerox tried to get their name back by warning people not to say "xerox" as a verb, especially when it wasn't actually a Xerox machine. But they failed, just as they failed in several other wrong headed pursuits such as suing Apple for its GUI and suing Palm for using Graffiti.

I think the moral high road is simply to keep on innovating and don't worry so much about empty words. I'd love to see Psion come out with some innovative products; they've always been a good company. As a commenter put it on the article site, R&D is better than C&D.
 

Its a cheddar thing (5, Interesting)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225611)

Cheddar, a class of cheese we all know, is in reality a particular type of cheese, from a particular location (not too far from where I live). Alas they didn't defend their mark, and now Cheddar is a generic term used to describe mostly low quality cheap cheese sold in vast amounts. Barely anyone has eaten 'real' Cheddar.

They tried to retrieve their mark from this widespread use by other manufacturers, but failed because they left it too long.

Thats what this is about, they want to retain their mark, its not about 'evil', if it were, then the real Cheddar makers are also evil, since this is a similar case. It may or may not be too late, but if they do nothing, they lose it anyway.

Re:Its a cheddar thing (-1, Troll)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225767)

Cheddar, a class of cheese we all know, is in reality a particular type of cheese, from a particular location (not too far from where I live).

Cheddar is also much less obvious a term as "netbook".

I think litigation like this should only be valid if the sales are actually hurt by watering down of the term. Since Psion probably has zero sales, they should be ignored as a trademark troll.

Also, they created Symbian, which qualifies for 147 evil points.

Re:Its a cheddar thing (1)

berend botje (1401731) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226057)

However, they also invented the Psion 5mx, so that is minus one thousand evil points.

Re:Its a cheddar thing (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226205)

Cheddar, a class of cheese we all know, is in reality a particular type of cheese, from a particular location (not too far from where I live).

Cheddar is also much less obvious a term as "netbook".

Why? Cheddar is a real place. Netbook is a made up (and not very accurate) term.

Re:Its a cheddar thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225769)

cheddar tends to stop me up, and then I end up dropping a deuce (or, as we say in Germany, a deutschmark) that threatens to tear my asshole wide asunder

creamy cheeses like real swiss, muenster, mozzarella, and limburger don't have that effect

Re:Its a cheddar thing (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225837)

That's not really the same. The EU is big on protected designation of origin, for things like Champaign (sparkling wine), Cognac (brandy), Parmigiano (cheese), etc. Those, like Cheddar (cheese), are locations, not a phrase trademarked by an individual or company.

Re:Its a cheddar thing (1)

Arterion (941661) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226069)

So what should people be calling cheddar cheese? A cheddar-style cheese? Or is that to say the only types of cheeses made in Cheddar is, in fact, cheddar cheese? What if a cheesemaker in Cheddar were to make swiss-style cheese? Would it properly be called "Cheddar Cheese" as well?

I think the term cheddar is for a style of cheese, with a particular flavor, not cheese from a particular place. And when you think about it, that makes a lot more sense.

Re:Its a cheddar thing (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226259)

I buy "chocolate candy" [consumerist.com] . I buy "Chicago style", "St Louis style", "New York style", and even "California-style" pizzas, depending on my mood.

Most of the cheese I consume is actually labeled "processed cheese".

I don't see why, had Cheddar been protected, we couldn't have called the 'knock offs' something different.
 

Re:Its a cheddar thing (1)

Rigrig (922033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226095)

I still remember 'walkman' as being an example of 'how not to learn from your mistakes' (i.e. 'diskman').

Re:Its a cheddar thing (1)

HiVizDiver (640486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226253)

Same thing with champagne [wikipedia.org] , although it seems that makers from the actual region of Champagne have been a little more successful defending its marketing use as an exclusive right for that region only. Still, it is consistently misidentified in the common vernacular.

Re:Its a cheddar thing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26226267)

Yes, but in this case, sadly, they waited too long given how fast the tech market moves.

I propose a new term: (2, Funny)

base3 (539820) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225617)

Notapieceofshitpsionbook

Easy solution (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225619)

When companies pull garbage like this, they are forced to close and their board personally fined into oblivion.

Re:Easy solution (4, Informative)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225659)

Actually it's not garbage, they own the Trademark and are entitled to protect it.

This is not some dodgy submarine "patent", it's well established Trademark law. Any commercial operation in the same situation would do the same. Even /.

Re:Easy solution (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225859)

When companies pull garbage like this, they are forced to close and their board personally fined into oblivion.

It seems a little excessive to shut down intel just because they misappropriated another company's trademark....

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26226033)

You're behind on Slashdot groupthink.

We love Intel, because their chips are used to make high-quality Apple computers.

We hate Psion, because Symbian smartphones compete against the iPhone, and competing against Apple is BAD.

So, in conclusion, Psion's trademark should be thrown out (because they are BAD and hate Apple), they company should be destroyed, Symbian outlawed, and the employees enslaved.

Re:Easy solution (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226085)

and the employees enslaved.

Nah ... too much work. Just line 'em up against the wall and shoot 'em.

Hormel and Adobe (4, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225635)

Psion, welcome to the ranks of Hormel and Adobe...

You aren't going to pull this name from the clutches of the tech culture...Just like Spam and Photoshopping.

Re:Hormel and Adobe (2, Interesting)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225713)

They still need to try. As stupid as this is, it's to be expected. Psion realistically does not have any chance of reclaiming exclusive use of the term netbook in regards to computers, and they know it. They're just doing it to go through the stupid steps of trademark law. Why the hell do you think they haven't sent C&Ds at Intel or Asus or any 'big' blog (Ars?). I mean, ASUS actively markets eeepcs as 'Netbooks' (see linky at the bottom). Psion is probably just throwing out some random C&Ds so when some greedy idiot shareholder or something complains about the trademark being violated, they can go 'well, we TRIED to protect it, but the courts ruled against us' at point at a couple random C&Ds.

http://eeepc.asus.com/global/product1002ha.html

Re:Hormel and Adobe (5, Insightful)

LMacG (118321) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225751)

How do you know that they haven't already been in contact with Intel or Asus? Perhaps when large corporations get a legal communication, they don't go running to their Wordpress installation, along with Twitter and Facebook, to post about how that other big bad company is being so mean to them.

Re:Hormel and Adobe (1)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225797)

How do you know that they haven't already been in contact with Intel or Asus?

We don't know that there has not been any contact about the topic, but we do no that if there has been contact, it is of no consequence so far, otherwise we'd see "Netbook used under license from Psion LLC" or similar text on documentation and announcements from Intel or Asus.

Re:Hormel and Adobe (1)

sane? (179855) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225735)

Actually they probably will win.

They coined the term many years ago, and its only recently (within this year) that people have started to use it for low powered intel boxes. Its the same market space and its likely they can claim that in the time between then and now they have been pursuing more discrete solutions.

Its a pity that this intel netbook crowd didn't learn more lessons from Psion about how to create workable small scale computers.

Re:Hormel and Adobe (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225763)

Its a pity that this intel netbook crowd didn't learn more lessons from Psion about how to create workable small scale computers.

Indeed, I'm still using my Series 5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psion_Series_5 [wikipedia.org] daily.

Re:Hormel and Adobe (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225895)

They can win against "netbook" manufacturers. They can't win against websites using the term as it used in common speech. Worse, establishing the term has moved into a generic term for a whole class of computers would void their trademark.

Not only will they lose the lawsuit (assuming the site can afford to defend itself) but they will lose the trademark as well.

Re:Hormel and Adobe (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225937)

Its a pity that this intel netbook crowd didn't learn more lessons from Psion about how to create workable small scale computers.

Even more so that Psion left the market and never really realized the potential for their products. I used a 5 for along time; great little device. There app suite was pretty decent, to teh point where you could get real work done on them.

One can only wonder what Psion would have today had they been able to continue developing the 5 and 7 series.

Re:Hormel and Adobe (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226109)

Its a pity that this intel netbook crowd didn't learn more lessons from Psion about how to create workable small scale computers.

Like... what?

Humor us Psion-ignorant people.

Too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225661)

Once the mass media uses the term as a generic label, it is pretty difficult to retrieve it. Why is Psion not suing cnet, etc, for misusing the term? The cat is out of the bag, and was in fact most of the way down the street before they noticed. For a counterexample, see "Blackberry," who sued about the BlackJack phone for being too similarly named.

Re:Too late (2, Informative)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225825)

Why is Psion not suing cnet, etc, for misusing the term? ... For a counterexample, see "Blackberry," who sued about the BlackJack phone for being too similarly named.

Asked and answered. There's presently no possibility that someone could buy a small computing device made by cnet thinking it was a product having the characteristics of a Psion netBook.

So... just curious: (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225673)

When do they start suing the Intel Corporation or Acer (one of whom had coined the term IIRC), and not the penny-ante hobbyist sites?

Ah - but I guess it's cheaper and easier to pick on the small fry first, eh?

Seriously - yes Psion has a real trademark on it, but what kind of screwball system do we all live in where (litigation-wise) the little guy gets it in the neck first?

/P

They aren't suing.. (3, Informative)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225711)

It's just a Cease & Desist letter. They have also, reasonably IMHO, given them 3 months to stop using their Trademark.

Re:So... just curious: (2, Interesting)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225715)

My guess is there will be no lawsuits, because they have a registered trademark. If there are any lawsuits, it would be the likes of Intel bullying Psion out of their actively-used trademark, not the other way around.

Re:So... just curious: (2, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225961)

I wasn't aware psion was still in business. I thought the psion series went the way of the newton around the time of palm/handspring era. I'd never heard of a psion netBook. I'm not sure that level of non-advertising counts as actively used.

Re:So... just curious: (3, Insightful)

internewt (640704) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225851)

I think in situations like this, the attack lawyers start on the hobiests and little guys first as part of a bigger plan, or just readiness for if the fight gets big.

If they went straight after Intel then Intel would speak to its vast army of lawyers who are already on the staff (just like all big corps.). Those lawyers would soon find (for example - IANAL) that netbook is pretty generic and Psion haven't been protecting their trademark for years. Basically, the Intel lawyers would be able to put up a fight that will cost Psion money and they could lose totally too.

If Psion go for a few small guys, then the chances of them just submitted are much higher. If Psion then goes after Intel, Psion at least has some examples of them successfully defending their trademark. Psion would argue that the capitulation of the little guy was because the big guy was correct in his assertion of the trademark, and not of course because small-time hobbiests can't afford nor want to waste time defending their use of what they thought was just a portmanteau of network (or internet) and notebook.

It's all about precedent. (1)

solios (53048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226185)

As a corollary, this is exactly why the RIAA is suing the hell out of 75 year old blind armless grandmothers and not, say... Harvard.

Combine some Little Guy crushing with a tech-unsavvy judge in the jurisdiction of your choosing and WHAMMO!. Profit.

Re:So... just curious: (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225913)

When do they start suing the Intel Corporation or Acer (one of whom had coined the term IIRC), and not the penny-ante hobbyist sites?

Ah - but I guess it's cheaper and easier to pick on the small fry first, eh?

Seriously - yes Psion has a real trademark on it, but what kind of screwball system do we all live in where (litigation-wise) the little guy gets it in the neck first?

/P

They have to protect the trademark; which means going after unauthorized use, no matter where it happens.

If they ignore the little guys the big guys will use that to argue the term has become a generic moniker for, well, Netbooks tm.

At least Psion appears to be reasonable and give people a some time to stop using their trademark.

Re:So... just curious: (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226223)

The proper hobbyist reaction might be a serious hate-on for Psion.

The "hobbyists" aren't the ones who made their marketing decisions. Psion had a chance to stay relevant and blew it long ago by using WinCE and a non-x86 processor.
Those who fuck with "hobbyists" might note that hobbyists make purchase decisions at their day jobs. If a company pisses me off I'd go out of my way to to buy their stuff, recommend others seek alternative (without mentioning my ire), and in general refuse to support them.

Mack Book. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225753)

Imagine if Mack Truck published a coffee table book containing photos of trucks it built over the years and titled it the Mack Book. And then imagine if Apple sent them C&D letters because MacBook is an Apple product. How ridiculous would that be? Equally ridiculous to the difference between netbook and netBook. Notice the capital "B" in the latter. Clearly a product name. Notice how the former has become a simple word in common usage in the English language to refer to a whole class of sub-notebook computers. What the hell else are we supposed to call them? Teenie-tiny-notebook-computers-that-are-smaller-than-most-notebook-computers?

Re:Mack Book. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225991)

Minilaptop? A small laptop? a legtop? There's nothing "net" about a netbook, it's just catchy and relates to the internet.

Where is the violation? (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225873)

The term netbook is used in common speech to refer to a collection of a certain type of laptop. A bunch of websites are writing content using that term. They may be selling advertising, but they aren't netbook manufacturers. They can't tell websites not to use the term.

Psion doesn't get to regulate how a word is used in common speech only if competitors can use it. The websites can keep their content up, there is no violation.

Re:Where is the violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26226117)

I do believe you are wrong, it is about how they've been going about policing it in the first place. By not having defended it until now, they may not have much of a defense anymore. Everyone uses Photoshopped or shopped to talk about a manipulated image, but adobe has trademark on proper use of their product PhotoShop...

[adobe.com]

Trademarks are not verbs.

CORRECT: The image was enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software.
INCORRECT: The image was photoshopped.

Trademarks are not nouns.

CORRECT: The image pokes fun at the Senator.
INCORRECT: The photoshop pokes fun at the Senator.

Always capitalize and use trademarks in their correct form.

CORRECT: The image was enhanced with Adobe® Photoshop® Elements software.
INCORRECT: The image was photoshopped.
INCORRECT: The image was Photoshopped.
INCORRECT: The image was Adobe® Photoshopped.
Trademarks must never be used as slang terms.

CORRECT: Those who use Adobe® Photoshop® software to manipulate images as a hobby see their work as an art form.
INCORRECT: A photoshopper sees his hobby as an art form. INCORRECT: My hobby is photoshopping.

And it continues

Shove it : (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225881)

ibm didnt try to prevent people from using PC as a generic term. psion, scion, scimition, noone else will be able to similarly.

excuse me, but you are totally stupid if you think you can fight languages. languages evolve beyond the call of law, you cant do zit about them. maybe 1/4 of the world uses the word 'f@ck', despite it being prevented from being used in a lot of places via laws.

netbook.

netbook.

i want to bu a netbook. NETBOOK.

sue me.

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26225909)

Slashdot hasn't taken action against Fat Boy Slim for use of Slashdot in his song "Slash Dot Dash"

Wikimedia Foundation hasn't taken action against "Zack and Wiki"

Users of Wankel engines in cars haven't taken action against the term to "wank".

Linus Torvalds hasn't taken action against Roesh for calling their products "Linux".

If we can't use "Netbook", how about "Laptot"? (2, Interesting)

ahecht (567934) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225945)

I never really liked the "Netbook" name all that much (especially since I use mine more for note taking and word processing, not surfing), and I think "Laptot" fits a whole lot better. Plus, since "Laptots" were African colonial troops in the service of France between 1750 and the early 1900s, it is unlikely to be trademarked.

Re:If we can't use "Netbook", how about "Laptot"? (1)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226313)

I've been using "laptot" since I purchased by Acer Aspire One back in August,, but was unaware of the prior usage. Guess I should have checked Wikipedia

Trademark vs. Patent, Psion (1)

hirschma (187820) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225957)

Before you go and start crapping all over Psion, consider the way that patents and trademarks work. I think that a lot of folks here are applying what they know about one to the other. It is a common enough problem.

A patent is enforceable whether you decide to enforce it or not. So, if you decided to enforce it vs. one single company while many others were ripping you off, you could do that.

A trademark, however, becomes diluted if you either selectively enforce, or if you do not enforce it. In other words, if Psion continues to allow everyone to use the term, especially more public entities like websites, their trademark will quickly become diluted, unenforceable, and worthless.

It is pretty clear that Psion either intends to license the trademark, or to introduce a consumer line of what they'll call Netbooks. Or perhaps, license the trademark along with a number of related patents (I think that they patented some stuff relating to form-factor that would be useful in a, well, N/netbook.

In other words, they need to do this to make money from their own IP. Not so awful.

Is there a trademark registered on "Asshole"? (0, Flamebait)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26225971)

I have to wonder if Psion has this trademark and whether or not they will sue me for calling anyone except them an asshole?

Re:Is there a trademark registered on "Asshole"? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26226129)

Is there a trademark registered on "Asshole"?

Yes. It's registered to a Mr. erroneus aka UID: 253617.

What's wrong with "subnotebook" ? (1)

solios (53048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226081)

I mean, really. A subnotebook is smaller and lighter than a "standard issue" laptop - my 12" powerbook G4 would have been a great example of this a few years ago. Of course, "netbooks" are typically smaller than that - even smaller than the Apple Duo! - but they''re still ultimately Bonsai Laptops and in some configurations can be used for Actual Work.*

They're just wee. "netbook" to me has negative connotations - it rings up an image of a Sun Ray [wikipedia.org] - a piece of hardware that's completely, entirely useless (too light to be a doorstop) without a network connection, from which is got everything. Including the OS.

Ahead of its time, the way things are going!

* I mean the kind of stuff that still drives Macbook Pro sales. Photoshop, Final Cut, etceteras. Yes, I know that a lot of Actual Work is done with emacs but you don't need processors, batteries, and video chipsets that were released three days ago to run emacs at useable speeds.

probably invalid (1)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226111)

I suspect that by now, the term "netbook" has become generic and they have no claim. They still have rights to "Psion Netbook".

Secure from battle stations (5, Insightful)

mbeckman (645148) | more than 5 years ago | (#26226261)

Calm down all you flamers. Psion is doing nothing wrong. This is perfectly moral and legal behavior on their part. They invented the term Netbook and are entitled to keep it as a trademark as long as they want. They still use the term in commerce and thus they still hold legal ownership under U.S. and international trademark law. No different from Apple's continued ownership of PowerBook. It's Psion's property and if you're griping about it you're simply being hypocritical, unless you are willing to give up your own intellectual property without a fight. The right thing for all of us to do is to simply switch to another term. Netbook is inaccurate in any case. The salient feature of these devices is not their network connectivity -- every notebook has that. It's their miniature size. These devices are all about the dimensions of the defunct palmtop form factor (sold by IBM, Sony, Acer, etc). Those did _not_ have much in the way of network ability, so a natural and more accurate name for these new devices is netpalmtop.

Isn't the "netbook's" time almost over anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26226335)

A special term for a small, low-powered computer... That's going to be useful for about another 5 minutes. It's not like a PDA/palmtop where the form factor is radically different and a new term is useful. It's just a smaller, more modest laptop!

Maybe I have all this bottled up rage over the stupid name because a netbook killed my dad.

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