Psion Gets Google To Ban 'Netbook' In Ads

from the doesn't-look-that-way... dept

Late last year, we wrote about Psion’s attempt to reclaim the word “netbook.” Years back, the company had a marginally popular product with that name — though it no longer offers such a product. The company was apparently upset at the commercial use of the word “netbook” which is commonly being used to describe cheap, small laptops like the EeePC. jkOnTheRun now has a story — direct from Psion PR — claiming that Google has agreed to block Google ads that use the term after recognizing that Psion has a trademark on the term.

Of course, advertisers can still advertise using the keyword “netbooks” but are apparently barred from actually using the word in the advertisement itself. So a search on “netbooks” still shows ads — just none of those ads say “netbooks” anywhere. Thus, if you look at the netbooks search, you see all the ads refer to things like “mini notebooks.”

This seems pretty pointless all around. As much as Psion may wish it still holds onto the name of a product it stopped selling years ago, the term has become generically accepted as referring to this generation of small and cheap notebook computers. Psion has had nothing to do with the current value in the word, and its attempt to take back control over the word it abandoned years ago is not, at all, what trademark law was intended to allow.

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Companies: google, psion

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Comments on “Psion Gets Google To Ban 'Netbook' In Ads”

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Anon (profile) says:

Here's my ad...

Buy our almost-a-netbook! It would be a netbook, if the bozos who hold the trademark on the term “netbook” wouldn’t sue us for using the term netbook to refer to our small notebook computer that’s optimized for the ‘net. But even though the netbook trademark owners aren’t actually selling anything called a netbook anymore, they threaten to sue anyone else who refers to a mini-notebook computer as a netbook, despite the fact that the term netbook is now a generic term. So, legally we can’t call our product a netbook. We would call it a netbook if we could call it a netbook, but we can’t call it a netbook, even if everyone else, such as yourself, calls it a netbook.

interval says:

Google’s continued willingness to roll over for anyone with a gripe or an imagined claim, or a voodoo doll with Bryn’s likeness or a crayon-scrawled curse with Google’s name on it is a continual source of amazement for me. Google by now surely has the cash to brush aside anyone like Psion aside without much trouble. Its really gutless to keep bending over backwards for any Tom, Dick, and Harry who simply phones in a threat like this, much less getting in bed with evilness like the Chinese Government. “Do no evil”- Ha!

nonsense says:


Why is an ad banned because it has a ttademark in it? There are plenty of ads for iPods–and iPod knockoffs. There are many non-sanctioned uses of trademarks. As Jimmy and interval said, It’s fine as long as the term has become generic.

This is just another example of non-fair-use of trademark rights. Goggle is most definitely evil.

ouch says:

All of this Googling through the Ethernet on my Netbook makes me want to jump on my Skidoo and use a Weed Eater to make Silly Putty of those Teflon Coated, Stetson wearing, Chicklet flashing lawyers. I need a Dixie Cup of Drano and a ride in my GoKart across the AstroTurf – my Fruit of the Looms are really in a bind.
Anyone have an Aspirin and a Bud?

Anonymous Coward says:

Having surveyed Psion’s site to see what products/services it is selling using the mark “netbook” (it appears that the answer is “none”), there is no trademark to enforce. Yes, Psion does have a currently subsisting registration for the mark “netbook”, but that registration is now of doubtful validity and enforceability because of non-use. Personally, I would not be surprised to see someone file the papers for a Cancellation Proceeding with the USPTO.

Unless Psion can come up with something, and quick, other than a token use, it seems likely that any efforts it may currently undertake to try and enforce rights in the term will go down in flames.

Save the Netbooks (user link) says:

"Save the Netbooks" campaign launched to fight impending trademark threat

“Save the Netbooks” campaign launched to fight impending trademark threat

The “Save the Netbooks” campaign is fighting the impending trademark threat
from Psion Teklogix, who have given until the end of March 2009 to cease using
the term citing trademarks relating to a line of products discontinued over 5
years ago.

For more information visit

Save the Netbooks (user link) says:

The ball's back in Google's court now...

If Psion’s “netbook” trademarks are good enough for Google they’re good enough for the rest of us, right? Not necessarily. While this is a victory chalked up for the visitors it is less significant than it has been made out to be. Furthermore, reversing it now could well prove the death knell for Psion’s marks (it would be far worse to have this victory briefly than to have not had it in the first place). Here’s hoping that Google do the right thing sooner rather than later.
Fortunately it shouldn’t be all that difficult. Here’s why…

Netbook ® Pro says:

This is piracy. Intel should have sought cancellation before using Psion’s legitimate trademark name, if they really believed that netbook was dropped by Psion. I believe the courts will be looking for proper procedures rather than wishful thinking. Therefore, Intel will eventually be forced to pay hefty fines to Psion.

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