Two weeks ago we reported that Canadian company Psion had started an all-out legal offensive to protect its Netbook trademark, a trademark the company gained through its line of portable “Netbook” device, discontinued a few years ago. Dell had already thrown itself into the fight, followed not long after by Intel. Now, Psion has filed a countersuit against Intel.
Last week Intel filed suit against Psion over the netbook trademark, asking the courts to negate Psion trademark of the word Netbook. “The consuming public has already adopted ‘netbook’ as a generic term for a category of notebook computers that are small, inexpensive and contain less processing power, making them optimal for connecting to the internet (or ‘net’),” Intel stated.
The counter-claim from Psion triggers my smile reflex. “Intel has acted wilfully and maliciously, has unlawfully attempted to trade on the tremendous commercial value, reputation and goodwill of the Netbook mark,” Psion states, “and has deliberately and intentionally confused and deceived the public as to an affiliation, connection or association of Intel with Psion, and/or as to the origin, sponsorship or approval of Intel’s goods and/or services.”
They continue to state that “as a result of the plaintiff’s long use of the Netbook mark in association with Psion’s products and services, the Netbook mark has come to be recognised by the relevant consuming public as being sponsored by, approved by, authorized by, associated with or affiliated with Psion.”
As El Reg already points out, that tremendous value bit is a little bit funny. “Tremendous commercial value? Well, Psion claims it has sold $13,650 worth of Netbooks – specifically “laptop computers under Psion’s Netbook mark” – this year alone, down from a peak of just over $2m in 2006, after which sales fell to $586,680 in 2007 and $60,900 in 2008.”
I think that if you were to walk into any shopping area, and ask people which brands they associate with the term “netbook”, Psion won’t be found on anyone’s lips. In any case, I doubt that Psion will be able to withstand the full force of both Intel’s and AMD’s legal departments, and this is for once a case where I sincerely hope the big guys win.
I think this is going to end pretty soon. its just a game of “who has the bigger legal budget” and “who is willing to fund this insane endevour in this economy longer” competition. The name “netbook” is not up for grabs, sorry but its that simple. use a better name and move on.
Even if it does sound funny about the value to you in your mind, Thom Holwerda, based on that counterclaim, Psion is clearly in the right from a legal standpoint in terms of owning the trademark and using it in commerce. Now, it’s up to the courts to decide if they’ve not been as vicious as required by law about trying to defend their trademarks in a timely manner.