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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). has an analysis here. Psion has demanded a jury trial, profits, treble damages, destruction of material bearing the mark 'netbook' and the 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 Nursie ( 632944 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @10:29AM (#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.

  • by Hozza ( 1073224 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:01AM (#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.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:03AM (#27040021) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:09AM (#27040091) Journal

    "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.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:27AM (#27040321) Journal

    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.

  • by topham ( 32406 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:29AM (#27040347) Homepage

    Since Netbook has NO MEANING anyway?

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

  • (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jackspenn ( 682188 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:32AM (#27040385)
    The fact that Psion themselves didn't register the domain name and instead Intel did years later, suggests Psion itself didn't take the term netbook seriously until others gave it value.
  • Small == wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @12:01PM (#27040763) Journal

    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.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @12:01PM (#27040771) Journal

    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.

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @12:21PM (#27041007) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday March 02, 2009 @12:56PM (#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.

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