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Psion Accuses Intel of Cybersquatting 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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Psion Accuses Intel of Cybersquatting

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  • by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @10:38AM (#27039755) Homepage
    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:Yep. (Score:3, Informative)

    by WegianWarrior ( 649800 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @10:59AM (#27039963) Journal
    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]
  • by PIBM ( 588930 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:06AM (#27040059) Homepage

    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.

  • Really,Yep. (Score:3, Informative)

    by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:22AM (#27040261) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by el_$corpio ( 319533 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @12:31PM (#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.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @03:07PM (#27043097) Journal

    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?

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @03:34PM (#27043399) Journal

    >>>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.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @03:42PM (#27043519) Journal

    >>>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).

  • by Klintus Fang ( 988910 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @04:05PM (#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.

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.