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Psion Accuses Intel of Cybersquatting

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the yer-mother-wears-combat-boots dept.

Portables 116

Save the Netbooks writes "We discussed Psion sending C&Ds late last year over international trademarks held on the term 'netbook' and Dell accusing Psion of fraud last week. Since then Intel has joined in by suing Psion in federal court. On Friday Psion counter-sued Intel (court filing, PDF). SaveTheNetbooks.com has an analysis here. Psion has demanded a jury trial, profits, treble damages, destruction of material bearing the mark 'netbook' and the netbook.com domain (among other things), claiming that they are still actively selling netbooks despite also revealing sales figures showing a minuscule market share. It seems that declaring victory may have been a little premature as it will be months before the dispute plays out in court."

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116 comments

Britney Spears School of Publicity (3, Interesting)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27039645)

Hey, if you can't make it with the quality of your product, just make sure you are in the news a lot.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (5, Informative)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#27039755)

Psion actually did have high-quality handhelds back before they became so commonplace. Unlike a lot of their competitors, they actually included a compiler right on their devices so you could program or modify existing programs. Of course, this is back in the '90s, before even the Newton...

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27039935)

OPL was usually included on the device (a simple BASIC-like scripting language), the C++ SDK was free but separate :-)

(psion machines were years ahead of their time, and didn't deserve to fail, what went wrong? It sucks that such a great company now has to stoop this low to make ends meet).

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040021)

I actually think Psion might have a case here. They registered the "netBook" trademark years ago, and have been selling "netBook" branded subnotebooks continually over the last decade.

At this point, I think "Netbook" has become generic, but not through a failure of Psion to protect its trademark. Intel, while not selling a device of its own, improperly appropriated Psion's trademark for its own commercial ends (selling Atom processors to subnotebook manufacturers among others). If Sun decided that "J2EE Server" wasn't going to win any adopters, and decided to call them "Websphere servers", that would be clearly be improper, even though they weren't using to refer specifically to their implementation.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040321)

I think this is an example of how a large corporation can away with almost anything they want.

Intel's use of "netbook" is just as wrong as if I started selling tissues called "kleenex". It's stealing someone else's name. But right & wrong doesn't matter. What matters is who has the deeper pockets, so Intel will ignore the cease-and-desist letters and just drag this in court until Psion goes bankrupt. It's a lot like what Microsoft did throughout the 90s.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (1)

2short (466733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041153)


But Intel didn't steal their name. They didn't start saying "netbook" to create confusion and trade on the excellent reputation of the famous Psion netbook. Rather they, or maybe some gadget blogger, noticed that this new class of machines is useful, despite their limited specs, thanks to their access to the network, and "netbook" is kind of catchy. They weren't trying to create an artificial association with the Psion Netbooks - which are kind of like the modern ones except even slower and with out the net access.

So as far as right and wrong - Psion made a product that didn't catch on; that doesn't get them the right to keep the name for all eternity.

Legally, I don't know (or want to know) enough copyright law to predict how this will come out in court. But ethically, others use of "Netbook" isn't hurting the sales or reputation of genuine Psion netbooks. That's what trademark is for; not letting others appropriate your hard earned reputation. That's not happening here because Psion netbooks don't have one. Trademark isn't supposed to be a lottery where you hit the jackpot if your semi-generic name gets popular for a popular class of product.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27041273)

Legally, I don't know (or want to know) enough copyright law to predict how this will come out in court.

Well shut up then. Trademark isn't supposed to be a lottery where you hit the jackpot if your semi-generic name gets popular for a popular class of product.

If people didn't misuse trademarks that could never happen, could it?

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041427)

If Psion had trademarked the name, and they were still using it (apparently they WERE still selling netbooks, even if only a few), then they probably have rights to the name. It doesn't matter than Intel is a much larger company. If Psion had a trademark on the name, and Intel did not check to see if the name was already trademarked, then they DID steal the name.

Whether Psion's product "caught on" in the market is irrelevant, as long as they were still selling them. You can't exactly let Intel void their trademark just because Intel is a bigger company! That's why we have trademarks in the first place.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (2, Interesting)

2short (466733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27042603)


Legally, you are probably right. But in judging Intel ethically, it matters to me whether they started saying "netbook" with the intention of stealing the name and trading on the reputation of Psions product. They clearly did not.

The real clincher (in the court of my opinion) would be whether it was even Intel that started calling them that. This is not clear to me. Certainly I first became aware of "netbook" as a generic descriptor of the class of machines, with no particular tie to Intel.

It's a good name fro a class of machines that needs one, and it seems considerably too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043467)

>>>Legally, you are probably right. But in judging Intel ethically

This is the law. Ethics matter in the Congress building, but not in the courtroom which is just there to enforce the letter of the law. If a law is Unethical, then change the law at the Congressional level.

>>>it matters to me whether they started saying "netbook" with the intention of stealing the name and trading on the reputation of Psions product. They clearly did not.

Intel received letters to cease-and-desist.
Intel ignored the letters.
I call that willful intent to steal the trademarked name.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (2, Interesting)

2short (466733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044361)

"This is the law."

No, this is slashdot. As I have tried to make clear, I am more interested in whether I personally think Intel are being evil bad guys here than in the details of the law involved. Call me arrogant if you like, but the law does not determine my opinion.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (2)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27046725)

>>>the law does not determine my opinion.

Which is why you would make a lousy judge. You'd probably demand I give-away my $300,000 savings to help my neighbor pay his mortgage because "in my opinion it's the ethical thing to do". Fortunately we run this country by law (a Republic) not your "personal feelings". My money is my property. Same with Psion:

Psion has property rights to the name "Netbook". Psion told Intel to stop using the name. Intel arrogantly ignored the letter and continued using the name, therefore Intel is the wrongdoer. There is no other way to interpret the law for those of us who use our brains. The name belongs to Psion not Intel.

The end.

(pounds the gavel)

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043769)

I don't see how there is any separate "ethical" issue anyway. Trademarks exist for a reason. No matter who started using it generically, if Psion had a valid trademark on the name, and Intel did not check first to see the name was trademarked before they started using it, then Intel is in the wrong. It is easy enough to check... apparently they just didn't bother.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043399)

>>>But Intel didn't steal their name.... and "netbook" is kind of catchy.

That's fine. They mistakenly used a trademarked name. No problem. HOWEVER now that they've been informed that the name is trademarked, via a cease-and-desist letter, they are obligated to stop. Since Intel is refusing to stop, they are in violation of the law, and can be sued for damages.

>>>Psion made a product that didn't catch on; that doesn't get them the right to keep the name for all eternity

Not eternity, no, but they can continue trademarking the name for several decades, so long as they continue paying the appropriate license fees to the U.S. government. Take the name "Oldsmobile". Even though that car no longer exists, General Motors still holds the right to the name for many years to come. Intel can't just along and setup an oldsmobile.com website, and then try to claim that GM no longer holds the rights. It doesn't work that way.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (3, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041007)

They may have registered "netBook" years ago but the only "netBook" product they list is in their discontinued product page. One of the requirements for maintaining a trademark is to actively use it.

Their focus seems to be vehicle-mounted computers, appropriate for police and delivery vehicles, and their handheld units are appropriate for managing stores (inventory control) and delivery personnel, not the target market for netbooks.

They abandoned it, and let it fall into common use, becoming a genericized trademark. I would buy a "netbook" like an Aspire One or eee PC, but I would not buy a "NETBOOK PRO" from Psion even if it were to be brought back into production.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27041465)

They didn't abandon it. (See article.)

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (2, Informative)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043097)

When the entire article is about how they didn't abandon it, and indeed sold large numbers through 2006 and still sell remaining stock and supplies, how can you claim that they abandoned it?

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043519)

>>>One of the requirements for maintaining a trademark is to actively use it.

Bzzz. One of the requirements is to actively ENFORCE it, by protecting it from infringement. That is what Psion did when they sent out cease-and-desist to Intel. Intel is obligated to acknowledge the letter and comply with its demands, otherwise Intel is violating trademark law.

Intel could have easily said, "Ooops sorry," and that would have been the end. But instead it's clear Intel intends to steal somebody's else's trademark through force (an army of lawyers).

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (3, Informative)

Klintus Fang (988910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043771)

This is true. Intel and the other companies currently using the term netbook to define this class of devices could have said "Ooops sorry" and that would have been the end of it.

If Psion had made their move to protect the trademark back when the Intel first started encouraging the use of this term in the media then that surely is what would have happened. But psion, in their own statements, said they waited until the latter quarters of 2008 after it was clear to them that the use of the term netbook for this general class of devices was spreading across the industry.

That I think is a key distinction. They waited. I'm not a lawyer of course, but it seems relevant to me.

Of course if Psion had sent out the CDC orders sooner, before the term caught on in the media and in the marketting departments of Intel, Dell, and others, then they would have nothing to gain. Psion had already discontinued their netbook line and would have gained nothing if they stopped the industry from using the term before it caught on.

Now look at the position Psion is in. If they succeed, they will now have exclusive rights to a trademark which has value because of the dollars spend by the big players in the industry to push the term as the definition of a general class of device.

It's unfortunate that these companies ended up using a term that was also a trademark for a discontinued psion product line. But it seems highly disengenuous that psion waited until after multiple companies had spent large amounts of marketing cash pushing the term to send their CDC orders. Seems like they waited for these other companies to breath life into the dead trademark before choosing to exercise their claim to that trademark.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27046789)

The term of "waiting" isn't long enough to cause Psion to lose their rights. Back when the world wide web was born, many many fansites arose around the TV show Star Trek. Paramount left them slide for 5 years, and then finally they decided they'd had enough and issued cease-and-desist letters in 1999. Some of the fans countersued claiming Paramount has left the rights to "Star Trek" and the logo to slide into public domain, but the courts disagreed, saying that not enough time had elapsed and that Paramount still retained the trademark.

I expect the courts will make the same ruling with respect to Psion, after all, it's only been 1 maybe 2 years since "netbook" started being used in general marketing. Psion has not lost their rights.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044093)

I'm not sure you've got that right.

To abandon a trademark, it isn't enough to stop using it. You've got to stop using it with the intent of never using it again. If they discontinued the product with an press release saying, "this is the last 'netbook' branded product we'll ever sell," then they'd have abandoned the trademark at that instant. However nobody does that sort of thing.

On the other hand, you just can't be sly about whether you want to use a trademark, hoping to catch somebody in an indiscretion at a far future date. IIRC, three years without use or attempt to defend is considered prima facie evidence of abandonment.

Now, I believe Psion discountined its last netbook in 2005; however "discontinued" only means that they aren't selling them through the normal wholesale channels. My understanding is that they continued to sell netbooks direct to some corporate accounts for as much as a year later. Perhaps they were liquidating inventory. Also, IIRC, in 2006 Psion filed documents with the FTC indicating its intent to continue the use of trademark. In either case the clock would run out on the trademark some time this year.

Now onto who is virtuous and wronged and who is evil and taking advantage.

It's quite plausible to believe that Intel thought Psion had met the three year criteria for abandonment. It's also quite plausible that Psion had every intent to abandon the trademark, until Intel made it valuable again. This doesn't mean that HP did its homework properly, nor does Intel screwing up mean Psion would win in court (although IANAL). We could imagine that during discovery, Intel could prove that Psion hand no real intent of ever using that brand again, and only started to make trouble when Intel's use of the term made it popular. However, won't happen because these things tend to get discreetly settled and the details thoroughly buried. Maybe that would indicate that Psion was just shaking down Intel, or maybe it means that they decided the cash offer was worth more than than the brand. We'll never know.

Again, IANAL, but if this were referred to me in my part time capacity as philosopher-king, I'd enforce the C&D but grant no damages to Psion over what would be an understandable technical error. If Psion didn't at least announce a new 'netBook' branded product this year, I'd rule the word as public domain.

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#27046463)

IMO the smart move for intel would be to settle, buy the trademark and then use it to bully the chineese vendors who are bringing out non intel based netbooks ;).

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041367)

According to an earlier article, Intel claimed that Psion wasn't selling netbooks anymore. But if they actually still were -- even only a few -- then by law they would probably retain rights to the name. Market share has no bearing on whether you can keep a name or not... only whether you are actively using the name.

Trademarks have to be defended (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044587)

Trademarks have to be defended. Psion should have raised an issue with people using the term "netbook" in media long ago. By now the value of the trademark has been distilled, and it's extremely doubtful that they can start enforcing it as a trademark after years of use as a common term.

The term netbook is synonymous with a class of product, just like Kleenex is. How many people actually ask for a "tissue" instead of a "Kleenex"? The term still can't be used to name competing products, but as a description it's tough to defend. (On the other hand I do think Scotties could get away with refering to their "Kleenex" product rather than referring to it as "tissue." Just because the public thinks of them as Kleenex doesn't mean Scotties could mention Kleenex in their advertising.)

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (2, Interesting)

david.given (6740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040733)

I have a Psion Netbook. It's a stunningly nice machine, with a really good keyboard (I mean, really good; it's got full sized keys and is extremely comfortable to type on), a decent touch-sensitive colour screen, PCMCIA, CF and a huge battery life with no moving parts.

Unfortunately by today's standards it's pretty antiquated. It runs EPOC, which may have been good then but is pretty useless today, and the 32MB of RAM isn't quite good enough to run anything else on (although you can hack Debian onto it, you wouldn't want to do real work with it). Connectivity is lousy: no wireless, no USB, no ethernet, and the only expansion is a single old-fashioned PCMCIA slot. The two or three models of 16-bit wireless cards that EPOC supported are now landfill. The only alternative is to use a PCMCIA USB card --- but PCMCIA (not Cardbus) USB cards are like hen's teeth. It's got infrared which I've never made work and RS232 for which you can't get the cables.

So I've never actually found anything useful to do with my Netbook yet. If it had wireless it'd be great as a remote terminal. Alas, without it, it sits uselessly at the back of a cupboard...

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041059)

i might have a pcmcia card that works with your netbook - an old siemens i-gate 11m with the intersil prism chipset (used it with my simpad sl4).

Re:Britney Spears School of Publicity (3, Informative)

el_$corpio (319533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041121)

I also have a Psion Netbook and have been using mine every day for years. What it lacks in connectivity it makes up for in speed, battery life and applications that do what they should and carry no bloat. The Agenda is still the best calendar app I've used. For example, you can create an entry and then add a (Psion) Word document containing information about the entry, including images, etc.

It turns on instantly. That alone puts it above any of the subnotebooks that are currently calling themselves netbooks. You can pop the CF cards in and out without causing the OS any confusion. You can even get a Windows like front end.

Wireless network cards can be got from eBay without too much difficulty (I've got a couple). You normally get an RS232 cable with the Netbook but it's easier to copy all of the files on the C: drive to a CF card and then copy the CF card to a PC.

Oh, and infrared works fine here - can use it to connect to the internet through my mobile phone and send and receive files.

And the Psion 5 (or 5MX) is completely compatible with these, so you can carry all of this around in your pocket if you don't want to lug around the Netbook.

Stunning machine at the time, still brilliant now (if you accept it's limitations) and a name well worth defending IMHO.

The term 'netbook'... (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27039659)

I thought it originated (in its current incarnation, not the Psion one) in the tech press and tech community, not as a marketing term from Intel or Dell.

Also, are Asus not involved and if not, why not? They kicked this thing off.

Re:The term 'netbook'... (2, Insightful)

Hozza (1073224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27039987)

I've seen several references in the press that it was Intel that re-invented the netbook term to go with the Atom marchitecture, other manufacturers and the press have just followed their lead.

I have to say I'm with Psion on this one, their competitors have released a near-identical product and used their brand name, of course they're pissed. Legally speaking the size of their market share has zero relevance.

Re:The term 'netbook'... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041309)

Legally speaking the size of their market share has zero relevance.

But the fact that Psion aren't American probably does.

Re:The term 'netbook'... (1)

drgould (24404) | more than 5 years ago | (#27042347)

I have to say I'm with Psion on this one, their competitors have released a near-identical product and used their brand name, of course they're pissed. Legally speaking the size of their market share has zero relevance.

Except that Psion appearently stopped selling netbooks 6 years ago, in 2003. Although they appearently renewed their trademark in 2006.

My understanding is that this problem is common in the food industry. Food companies often produce small quantities of a product to maintain their trademarks, because in a case like this they can point and say "see, we're still using this trademark".

But Psion appearently completely stopped producing netbooks.

I'm not saying who's right, I'm just saying.

Re:The term 'netbook'... (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043153)

Apart from still selling netbook pros and actively selling tens of thousands in 2006.

They clearly stopped making them now, which is a great shame. The great Psion products faded away with the Symbian split, and Psion fading away. I would hope that they are working on a next generation ARM-based netbook product running Android, but fear that they're dead as a technological innovator.

Re:The term 'netbook'... (1)

drgould (24404) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043449)

Apart from still selling netbook pros and actively selling tens of thousands in 2006.

Well, Ars [arstechnica.com] suggests Psion's revenue claims are suspect.

These numbers are somewhat suspect for two reasons. First, Psion claims that peak netBook revenue occurred in 2006, three years after the netBook Pro went off the market and the same year Psion renewed its trademark. How could users buy two million dollars of accessories for only $135,000 worth of netBooks? The timing is off.

Second, the numbers seem too small. The netBook sold for $1300, so Psion's $5.35 million in total sales over the last ten years would amount to a mere 4100 netbooks. This seems too low, even for a fizzled product, especially considering the relative success of the Psion 3 and Psion 5 in the 90s.

Just taking Psion's revenue claims of US$2073207 (from the Ars article) in 2006 (their alleged peak year). $2073207 divided by $1300 is just under 1600 units. Hardly tens of thousands.

But I don't know enough to make a judgement, I'm just saying.

Re:The term 'netbook'... (1)

polemistes (739905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040013)

Probably because Asus isn't using the term 'netbook' in their advertisement of the Eee. Of course I'm not sure of this, but I haven't seen 'netbook' anywhere on the Asus site.

savethenetbooks.com (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27039673)

cool website number :)

Indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27040005)

Non-authoritative answer:
Name: savethenetbooks.com
Address: 0.0.0.0

First time I've actually seen a website number post be worth an "interesting" mod.

Re:Indeed! (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#27042123)

nslookup www.savethenetbooks.com

Name: ghs.l.google.com
Address: 72.14.235.121
Aliases: www.savethenetbooks.com
                    ghs.google.com

whois from http://centralops.net/co/ [centralops.net] gives

      Domain Name: SAVETHENETBOOKS.COM
      Registrar: ENOM, INC.
      Whois Server: whois.enom.com
      Referral URL: http://www.enom.com/ [enom.com]
      Name Server: NS15.ZONEEDIT.COM
      Name Server: NS17.ZONEEDIT.COM
      Status: clientTransferProhibited
      Updated Date: 16-feb-2009
      Creation Date: 16-feb-2009
      Expiration Date: 16-feb-2010

I guess Intel or Dell own it.

Re:Indeed! (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 5 years ago | (#27042475)

I guess Intel or Dell own it.

I tend to doubt it. It has the name of two Australian individuals on it, neither with any apparent connections to either organization, both of which have substantial blogs, and mention the domain in recent postings.

In come... (-1, Flamebait)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27039783)

...an army of assholes pretending to deffend america through the assertion of unreasonable "property" rights.

In 3, 2, 1.... contact.

Yep. (-1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27039887)

The thing is, if Psion didn't register the trademark in the USA, they really don't have much to stand on, do they?

BUT

If psion actually has the term netbook registered as a trademark, then this is an open and shut case. I mean, if the name is so valueless, or so easy to think up, come up with another word. But psion has the name netbook registered, and that's kinda how it works.

I can understand your desire to protect those poor companies Dell and Intel from the taxing obligations of having to think up a word of their own.

Re:Yep. (2, Informative)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27039963)

They did register it in the US, way back in '96; see http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=75215401 [uspto.gov] for details. Off course, that won't stop a couple of other companies trying to take the trademark away from Psion... Psion also have an interesting statement at http://www.psionteklogix.com/documents/com/specSheets/Psion_Netbook%20_Trademark_%20Statement.pdf [psionteklogix.com]

Really,Yep. (2, Informative)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040261)

Looks to me like they are entitled to the trademark. They registered it, they used it. Intel's actions in this regard seem like they are trying to hijack a term.

Re:Yep. (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040003)

Note quite so open and shut. Trademarks must be defended at a certain level else they will be revoked. If a trademarked works ends up slipping into common usage for too long, then you end up SOL and lose it.

Re:Yep. (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041653)

--
This comment is worded exactly as intended. Any application of lame "Fixed that for you" jokes will be "fixed for you".

Fixed that for you.

ta3o (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27039881)

dyinG. All major Need to scream that Contributed code the reaper In a

Just call it something else. (-1, Flamebait)

certain death (947081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27039909)

CHRIST MAN! Just call it a sub notebook, or some other stupid buzz word. Let the technical journals call it what ever they want. I am extremely sick of hearing about how company X exists only to sue someone over what they could not bring to market due to a lack of marketing or innovation. STOP THE MADNESS!!!

Re:Just call it something else. (5, Informative)

PIBM (588930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040059)

They are not there to sue
From Psion themselves:

Is Psion looking for financial compensation?

Although taking someoneâ(TM)s trademark is a serious matter, we have simply asked retailers and
manufacturers to transition to a different descriptive term over a 3 month term. We have not
sought compensation at all from any party contacted. We have no intention of selling the
âNetbookâ(TM) trademark registrations either, valuable as they may be, or of licensing them on a
for-profit basis. We simply wish to continue use of our âNetbookâ(TM) trademark, and to be free to
use it on our future products.

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

2short (466733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041245)

Well, the "have not sought compenasation" part is no longer true. Let's assume it's just out of date. The rest sounds like PR. By which I mean BS. If they just want everyone to stop using the term, they should give up, because that's never going to happen. Terms don't get removed from popular usage by lawsuits. Everybody calls them netbooks now. My father-in-law wants "a netbook so he can watch some internets" when he travels. Intel using something else now won't mean squat.

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040255)

sick of hearing about how company X exists only to sue someone over what they could not bring to market due to a lack of marketing or innovation.

And the relevance to this case would be what?

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

certain death (947081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040355)

Well...let's see...they (Psion) could not sell enough of the product when they reportedly came up with the term "NetBook" and now that someone is selling them, they suddenly want the name to be protected because they want to capitalize on said term because it is now a buzz word. Does that make sense? Not being snarky, but just stating how it appears to me. **Disclaimer** I am not a lawyer, nor do I pay one on T.V.

Re:Just call it something else. (5, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040771)

Psion came up with the term.
Psion got the trademark.
Psion made good sales up until 2007 - note this is well within the five year trademark term before it's not in use.
Psion indeed still sell remaining stock.
Intel started using the term 'netbook' in 2008 to describe the systems they were pushing that were in the exact same format as the Psion Netbook and Netbook Pro.
Psion only wanted the websites, bloggers and companies to stop using the term 'netbook' for non Psion products.
Intel's now gone too far, and Psion have had to file suit.
For other entities, they have respected the trademarks - Google has put the term on the banned list for advertisements, for example.

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27042511)

*cough* I believe you mean Asymetrix did in 1989, well before Psion in filed 1996, although they also abandoned it in 1993.

Or maybe Teknon, which filed in 1995, was granted a trademark(albeit for software industry, not hardware industry) in 1997 and still holds it.

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27042931)

And we're not talking about those specific instances of the trademark as they're not relevant. Still useful to know about their presence, of course, but they won't help or hinder either Intel or Psion.

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27046037)

If it was abandoned it was fair game for whoever picked it up. Because that's like what abandoned means.

However Psion did not abaondon it; they have sold products under that trademark within the last 5 years, whether you're aware of that or not.

Still, continue chanting "U-S-A-NUM-BER-1" if it makes you feel better. I know if I was a dumb fat trailer trash prickdribble it'd work for me. Huh, dem limey's wantz to steel are munny'z!

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041355)

I should have been clearer - I was after facts. Perhaps you should read some of the other replies or maybe try the search engine of your choice?

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040371)

Meh. Call them small laptops.

Mead makes notebooks, as does Moleskine. ASUS and Dell make laptops, some of which are small.

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

certain death (947081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040523)

Well put! I suppose that is where I was going with my initial statement, but you put it in much better terms.

Re:Just call it something else. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27040543)

A-fucking-men. I don't know how or when the perfectly unambiguous "laptop" got thrown out in favor of the trendy "notebook".

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

Arcady13 (656165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27042707)

It probably had something to do with the people who had their ball-hair singed off by extremely hot "laptops" and sued the manufacturers. The word "laptop" implies that it goes on your lap. Some lawyer probably told them to rename them...

Re:Just call it something else. (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041097)

Not sure how this was modded off-topic.

"Netbook" is a stupid name anyway. Intel, etc, should get over themselves and call them something else.

What's 'netbook' supposed to mean, anyway? Are they somehow more connected than other portables (no). Are they so un-capable of other tasks that it can only be used to connect to the internet? (Not sure that's the message they're going for).

Echoing Ars Technica... (2, Interesting)

ghostis (165022) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040025)

Looks like netbooks may need a new name, for now... I recently did a whois search across all the prefixes and suffixes I could think of for small laptops (mobile-,mini-, -top, -book, etc.: net,com,org) All the .coms, .nets, and most .orgs were taken. Would one of you who has a short catchy one of these domains step forward to offer the name to the community?

-Ghostis

Re:Echoing Ars Technica... (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040289)

Why do netbooks need a new name? It's a well-understood and generic term, just like biro or (in some countries) hoover. Let the lawyers deal with the lawyer-crap.

Re:Echoing Ars Technica... (1)

ghostis (165022) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040449)

Because trademark cases can sometimes take *a long time* to resolve. If the effort to clear "netbook" fails in the end, Psion may be able to get major payments from anyone who made money from it before the case was resolved. That may include regular folks, like you and I, who may get Ad Sense income from blogging about "netbooks." IANAL, but, in my humble opinion, quickly working around the situation would make everyone's lives easier.

OTOH, If Psion just settled with the big guys and then released the name, we can all move on.

-Ghostis

Re:Echoing Ars Technica... (2, Interesting)

samj (115984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040723)

Psion have essentially given an amnesty to bloggers and journalists using the term "netbook" (which may prove reason enough in itself to take the trademark off them since any licensing must include quality assurance). That includes blogs with advertising as explained here [jkontherun.com]:

"where a blogger uses context sensitive advertising that is completely outside of its control (so it has no knowledge at all whether a 'Netbook' related advert will be placed in its blog site), then we're taking the view that we need to focus on working on persuading the featured retailer to adopt a term other than 'netbook'."

This is why we believe the amnesty doesn't go far enough [savethenetbooks.com].

Re:Echoing Ars Technica... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043475)

Psion have essentially given an amnesty to bloggers and journalists using the term "netbook" (which may prove reason enough in itself to take the trademark off them

Nope. Ignoring them might. Saying "You are using our trademark. We will allow you to continue under condition yada yada" strengthens their case.

If the sales figures are true ... (5, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040091)

"Assuming around 15,000,000 netbooks were sold in 2008 at a conservative $200 per unit (and that our calculations are correct) Psion had a "netbook" market share of two thousandths of one percent in 2008 - rather low for a company claiming to hold a monopoly over the mark."

and absolutely irrelevant, especially as the sales in 2005 and 2006 show massive amounts of sales, and as they were the sole player in that market then, a 100% share. Within the past 5 years. And Intel's abuse of the trademark led to the Psion share of the netbook marking shrinking.

Psion have this one all wrapped up.

Re:If the sales figures are true ... (1)

samj (115984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040643)

Actually no, the netBook rather than netBook Pro figures are relevant if only because it was on the basis of a netBook flyer that Psion renewed the trademark in 2006 (long after that particular product had been discontinued). This was the basis of Dell & Intel's claims of fraud, which could well undermine the trademark altogether (assuming abandonment and/or genericide don't).

Industry should cave - and capitalize on it. (2, Interesting)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040093)

I think the industry should all stop using the Netbook name, immediately. And then take out multiple advertisements to "clear up the confusion," pointing out how much better their fully-functional micro-laptops are.

Tag line: "Why buy a Netbook(TM) when you can have a Dell?" (with proper attribution for Netbook, naturally).

Re: Dell isn't exactly a step up (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040993)

Tag line: "Why buy a Netbook(TM) when you can have a Dell?" (with proper attribution for Netbook, naturally).

Dell had the lack of quality right, they just needed to shove it into a smaller form factor.

Anybody else think it's funny.. (3, Insightful)

topham (32406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040347)

Since Netbook has NO MEANING anyway?

Psion will lose because they aren't an American company. Not because they don't have a case.

netbook.com (2, Insightful)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040385)

The fact that Psion themselves didn't register the netbook.com domain name and instead Intel did years later, suggests Psion itself didn't take the term netbook seriously until others gave it value.

Re:netbook.com (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 5 years ago | (#27042625)

From what I understand of your logic, it could be extended thusly:

jackspenn.com is available, and consequently you don't take yourself seriously and your name is forfeit.

Correct, or am I missing something? If it is correct the repercussions are scary.

Re:netbook.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043847)

Forfeit? maybe you should read what this case is about... No-one wants Psion to stop calling their devices netbooks, Intel and others just want to use the name too. In your slashdot-worthy analogy it means that A) you have the right to get jackspenn.com if you want to and B) the original poster has the right to call himself jackspenn.

Please explain, which part of this is scary?

"Webpad" (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040549)

Anyone vote for "Webpad"?
what about "Netpad", "Webbook","Nettop" even "Surfboard" maybe?

Actually, NetTop should be an internet-add on for your TV :)

Re:"Webpad" (1)

spiderbitendeath (577712) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040961)

Netpad is a device by Psion, I'm sure they probably have that one trademarked as well.

Re:"Webpad" (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041551)

I think we can safely rule out anything ending in 'pad' - those are probably trademarked by tampax/bodyform/lil-lets et al.

New Psion Netbook (TM)? (1)

ghostis (165022) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040713)

Of course, having really liked Psion's past designs, I think it would be really cool for Psion to take another crack at the (renewed) market. They have the design chops. They also have a nice non-Intel platform in the Nano. Just a thought.

Small == wrong? (4, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27040763)

claiming that they are still actively selling netbooks despite also revealing sales figures showing a minuscule market share.

So, what the submitter is saying is that because Psion has a small player with "minuscule market share", the big guys should be able to ignore Psion's trademarks.

More hypocrisy from the /. crowd.

Re:Small == wrong? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27041307)

You dipshit.

That's not what the poster said. Unfortunately, to understand poster's point you would have to know a bit about trademark law; I won't tire my fingers in vain. What a fuckin dipshit.

And don't you understand that "the /. crowd" is not as concerned with "big guys" and "little guys" as it is with dangerous lawsuits?

Viewing your posting history, I seriously believe that you have a personality disorder. I'm not kidding -- I don't think you are well. The amount of unfounded rage in your responses seems absolutely out of control. Go get help dipshit.

Re:Small == wrong? (-1, Flamebait)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041739)

Said the anonymous coward, who is a complete dumbass. If I am unwell, what does it say about you, who is too much of a coward to even stand behind your words?

I quoted the submitter verbatim. There is nothing dangerous with this lawsuit. Perhaps you should read Slashdot's history, especially when it comes to lawsuits.

Psion have a valid claim (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041105)

They were using the term Netbook to sell a product before the current 'Netbooks' were even conceived, they have been selling and maintaining their Netbooks since then.

'Netbook' for budget ultraportables was coined and popularised by Intel and their partners. Although a catchy nickname and it captures the nature of the product, it's not a descriptive name in itself.

Psion have every right to go after Intel who've done all they can to associate their atom and celeron based systems with the term and are now trying to claim that it was common usage, not their marketing that came up with the term. Intel are clearly realising how they're in major danger of losing and are now spamming countersuits to put them out of business through legal fees as well as trying to spread hate for Psion through tech sites.

Re:Psion have a valid claim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27041369)

I imagine a meeting at Intel:
"Netbook... what a brilliant name!", and then you have pats on the back and smiles.

Moral and commercial considerations aside, it's their fault for failing at using Google to do the most basic form of research, or for trying to squat something that was already used as a trademark and far from being a common term at the time.

Its about as Generic as you can get now (1)

molesdad (1003858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041659)

just Google 'Netbook' and the hits you get will give you a broad range of manufacturers and specs for small notebooks/laptops that can connect to the web/net. It's a generic term now trademark or not. Generic means that it's manufacturer unspecific, I might want to buy a 'hoover', Dyson, Hoover, Electrolux and DirtDevil all spring to mind. I have already made the association to more than one manufacturer of dust suckers; it's a generic term. Even re-sellers have a category for Netbooks.

Re:Its about as Generic as you can get now (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 5 years ago | (#27042691)

Wouldn't that mean that the trademark on anything is forfeit if another company (or group of companies) is able to use the name more successfully? Breaking trademark laws is only a bad thing if you don't do a good enough job at it?

Re:Its about as Generic as you can get now (1)

molesdad (1003858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043265)

My point was that it is not the manufacturers that created this but the public(media) association of the term 'Netbook' with a small laptop. The fact that the term has now become generic should allow manufacturers to use the term to describe their product in that category. Psion still have their 'netBook' Netbook if it even falls into that category. I think they embrace the good fortune of having a genericized product and market it accordingly i.e. The Original Netbook.

Re:Its about as Generic as you can get now (1)

Godwin O'Hitler (205945) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044871)

It's a generic term now trademark or not.

So, if I remember correctly, were rollerblades. They're not called that now though.

Maybe PSION could juggle a few letters in their (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#27041837)

name, add one and become POISON.

But, if they become PRION, they could be the slurry/sludge/brown POISON to slow Intel down...

On my desk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27041975)

Well - I have two Psion netBooks sitting here on my desk.
Made in 1999 I think, and with "netBook" on the nameplate.
Sounds like a reasonable claim to the name.
Steve

searching for netBooks.. (1)

arisel (1490413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27042489)

independently on how you see this trademark stuff: It's gotten really hard over the last year to search for netBook-related articles on the web. So for my personal searching Intel did harm me. I wonder if I'm the only one who is annoyed about that.

Intel in the wrong here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27045107)

Intel and others did a bad thing by not properly securing the proper "catch phrase" branding for this sort of product.

I mean... come on Intel. Do your "due diligence" before spending a bunch of money on advertising, marketing, logos... or whatever. Did they just get into the marketing business? or what is there excuse here?

Wasn't there something about the naming of the pentium/P5 not being called the 586 in marketing because they could not copyright a number? So they moved from numbered CPU's to wording? What happened to the department looking into these things? Downsized?

*its all about the pentium.

Just because there is a good name out there and everyone likes it... don't mean you can steal it because you're a big boy.

And for those of you who say: Psion is just trying to take advantage of the situation. I say poo-poo on you. Every company should take advantage of every situation for profit when they are within their legal right to do so. Not doing so is a disservice to Psion employees and its shareholders. And there is no ethical concern here... its business. And Intel should be smarter then this.

There is little they can do now except pay this company off. I mean a small payoff percentage for trademark/copyright usage would be much greater then Psion could possibly make in profits on their netbook brands.

I will also say, that I dislike the tone of the savethenotebook link in the main article... because it implies several times that big business should have special copyright allowances due to their market share. And that aint right.

If you wanna root for anyone here... join me and root for the little guy: Psion. There right and they should not have their good copyrighted name stolen

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