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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Jimmy the Geek, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 3:13pm

    Generic use of a term is allowed

    In fact, if a term becomes generically used, then the product losses it's trademark. Anyone who has ever Xeroxed a Kleenex next to their Fridg(aire) knows this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anon, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 3:53pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    interval, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 3:56pm

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Yakko Warner, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Generic use of a term is allowed

    I thought "fridge" was short for "refrigerator", not "Frigidaire". And why would one xerox a kleenex? You're liable to get a paper cut from that, and you'd better hope you have some bactine and a band-aid handy...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Michael B, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 4:15pm

    Lenovo gets it!

    Take a look at Lenovo's site and see what they call their IdeaPad S10... a NET BOOK (2 words). Let's see Psion sue them for that!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    nonsense, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 4:15pm


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Michael B, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Lenovo gets it!

    OK... changed my mind. If you Google "netbook" the Lenovo listing says "Net Book" but the site still says "Netbook". Guess they figured out a way to get around Google's draconian censorship!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    ouch, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 4:27pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Moron, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 5:58pm

    I'm not really in a hurry, but ...

    I thought trademark was put in place as a consumer protection, so that the consumer would not be fooled by similar products that are named in a similar fashion.

    So - the term netbook ..... I think that Psion and Goolgle are only ones confused on here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    anon, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Here's my ad...

    ohhhh you're in for it now!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    ToySouljah, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 10:00pm

    The Real Netbook

    Maybe Psion has something in the works to release the "real" or "original" Netbook. Although, it would have been really smart to release a product and let everyone else just advertise for you free of charge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 8:09am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    BillDem, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 4:17pm

    Psion are lame-ass idiots...

    The morons probably say they are "xeroxing" documents on their Sharp copier to support the fact that "netbook" is their trademark...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Save the Netbooks, Feb 16th, 2009 @ 1:52pm

    "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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Save the Netbooks, Feb 16th, 2009 @ 6:32pm

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Netbook ® Pro, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 1:16pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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