Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
netbook, trademark

intel, psion

Psion Gives Up Its Trademark Claim On 'Netbook'

from the hopefully-it-didn't-cost-too-much dept

Late last year, Psion kicked off a ridiculous legal fight, claiming that it owned the trademark on the word "netbook" and all of the companies offering "netbooks" today were infringing. While it is true that Psion had a (very different) product called a netBook many years ago, it had stopped offering it in the market, and the generic use of "netbook" was clearly referring to the new generation of small/cheap computers, having absolutely nothing to do with Psion's netBook. The whole purpose of trademark law is to avoid confusion of customers or some sort of misappropriation of brand value built up by the holder of the mark. That clearly was not the case here at all... and yet Psion continued to fight on. This week, the company finally withdrew its trademark claim after reaching some sort of "amicable settlement" with Intel. In all likelihood, this means Intel paid Psion to go away, though, one can hope that enough trademark attorneys explained to Psion that the company had almost no chance of succeeding in pushing its claim forward. There are certainly plenty of borderline trademark cases, but it's difficult to see how this one would even be in the same zipcode as a legitimate claim.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    Zigits, 2 Jun 2009 @ 6:18am


    While I agree that there are far too many frivolous infringement lawsuits, I don't really see this as one of those cases.

    Do you homework. Here's a review, c. 2000:

    Contrary to a lot of the silly infringement lawsuits, Psion did, in fact, have the near-equivalent of the modern day NetBook - called a netBook - 10 years ago. In fact, Psion made several amazing PDA's and sub-notebook-like products in the mid-to-late 90's that were often judged superior to the Palm, Sharp, and Microsoft PDA's of the day.

    But back to the point, it's not like Psion's netBook was something *completely* unrelated to today's NetBooks. This isn't the case where some company had a trademark's name of 'NetBook' 50 years ago on a product that looked like a book that held fishing nets or something. Psion's netBook was the same idea as that of today's NetBooks. They're both a small, portable computing device. Sure, today's NetBooks are more robust and obviously superior to Psion's netBook, but the idea - the core of what the lawsuit was about - really is quite similar. Again, I agree that *most* of these kind of lawsuits are meaningless. But this one did have a few nuggets of truth in it, at least from Psion's perspective.

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

    • icon
      Tgeigs (profile), 2 Jun 2009 @ 6:26am

      Re: Really?

      Yeah, but with trademark, don't you have to have the product you're claiming trademark infringement on IN the marketplace?

      I might be wrong, I'm relatively ignorant on trademark.

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

      • icon
        minijedimaster (profile), 2 Jun 2009 @ 6:47am

        Re: Re: Really?

        I think you're right, any sane judge would look at the case and throw it out because Psion didn't have anything to protect against consumer confusion. It's not like anyone buying a netbook today would get confused and say... Oh, I thought this was a Psion netBook.

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

      • icon
        Marcel de Jong (profile), 2 Jun 2009 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re: Really?

        Please tell Monster Cables that. :)

        I didn't know they were also in the miniature golf business, to name just one of their many frivolous lawsuits regarding the name Monster.

        Or even in the animation business (they are mentioned in the credits of the Disney movie Monsters & Co, as saying that they are not related to the movie, as a part of a settlement between Disney/Pixar and Monster Cables)

        but I hope you are correct. :)

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

      • icon
        Peet McKimmie (profile), 2 Jun 2009 @ 8:57am

        Re: Re: Really?

        Psion still sell "netBook compatible" peripherals, and it's not inconceivable that someone would start a lawsuit against them because these wouldn't work with their Asus/Acer/Dell...

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

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.