intel-v-psionDell wasn’t the only company to challenge Psion’s netbook trademark in court last week. It turns out that Intel is also asking courts to cancel Psion’s trademark, declare that Intel has not been infringing on the trademark and prevent Psion from asserting any rights to the term again in the future.

The Intel complaint makes some of the same allegations as the Dell challenge. For instance, both claim that Psion used fraudulent practices to make it look like they were still selling laptop computer style devices called Netbooks in 2006 when they were in fact only selling peripherals for products that they actually stopped selling in 2003. But overall, if you’re at all interested in this issue, I highly recommend giving the entire Intel complaint a read. It’s kind of funny.

Like Dell, Intel isn’t trying to make money off the term (not directly, anyway), and doesn’t want to win the trademark for itself. Rather, the company wants the courts to rule that it’s a generic term describing a class of device and that no company should have the exclusive rights to the word “netbook.”

If you don’t have the time, or if you’re averse to PDF links, you can find a few of my favorite arguments after the break.

via Eee and Heise

  • Intel claims that “there is no alternative term with any appreciable usage that describes the netbook category.” Never mind the fact that VIA has been pushing the term mini-notebook or mini-laptop for ages.
  • Intel describes netbooks as “small, inexpensive, and contain less processing power, making them optimal for connecting to the internet (or “net).”
  • The company points out that chip makers, computer manufacturers, major retailers, and news organizations have all used the term to describe products including the Acer Asprie One, Samsung NC10, and “MS Wind.” (Typo included because it’s funny)

We also learn that Psion has been sending complaints to companies including Dell, HP, and Best Buy. And that the attorney for Psion “suggested that the 30 million hits that result from a Google search for the term ‘netbook’ was not, in Pison’s view, evidence of genericness, but rather ‘seem[s] to point to the scale of potential damages due to [Pison] if a court were to assess damages for infringement.”

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13 replies on “Like Dell, Intel is challenging Psion’s trademark of “netbook””

  1. Can this company no one has heard off really fight off these other companies and actually make money off their netbook trademark. I mean they would have to be losing money in court here and were is they’re gain even if they do win?

    1. really? You have never heard of psion? Netbook, 5, 3a, revo ??? Or in the US the Diamond Mako or Osiris?

      All are Psion….

      Have you never heard of Symbian? That is a direct descendent of the Psion OS used in the devices above. It was originally called EPOC but symbian was just a development of EPOC.

      Ok so they were much larger in Uk and Europe but still they were pretty big once upon a time. They pretty much do devices for the vertical markets now. Not sure it is all to do with how much money psion could make but they could release a mini laptop and call it a netbook (as they own the trademark). Also if Intel want to use the trademark they should have bought it off Psion.

      If it was for a totally diffrent type or class of device I agree but the netbook and netbook pro (although Epoc and Windows CE) were mini laptop style devices.


  2. Thank goodness someone else is looking at this with a critical eye and not simply echoing the story. To me, the overriding problem is Intel’s claim of genericness. It’s generic because Intel made it generic by (re)introducing the term, despite the fact its a registered trademark. I find it highly insulting that Intel is trying to push to the genericness argument without admitting their critical role in making it generic.

  3. IIRC yes the original Psion Netbook was wound up in 2003…

    However they replaced it with an updated version called the Psion Netbook Pro (win ce version) which was manufactured and sold quite a while after this.

    Think you’ll find a few people looked up the dates for the original Netbook and assumed that is when the line stopped but in fact it didn’t.

    Wouldn’t bank on intel or dell winning. After all why should they? If you are a big company and wanted to create a new class of device, and came up with a name “netbook” would you not at least google it or check if it was someone elses in the same market?

    I know we all like the term but if Intel or Dell get away with it just wait and see hwo long it is before they start stealing other things and won’t care as they will expect they can out-money people in court and lawyer costs…

    Would love for this class of device to be called Netbook but can’t justify the cost of intel/dell getting away with this.

    1. John, the second you indefinitely stop using a mark in the specified class(es) it self destructs, and if you don’t specifically stop but don’t produce anything for 3 years then it self destructs too. Basically the term “netbook” grew organically and independently of Psion who have contributed *nothing* that we have been able to find to the adoption of the moniker for a generic class of computers.

      Even if not abandoned as such, the mark can no longer serve as a trademark as it fails to act as a source identifier (e.g. you don’t think “Psion” when you hear “netbook”). This is called genericide and it happens from time to time, though in this case not because the mark grew “too popular” ala cellophane, etc.

      And finally there is the issue of making false swarn statements (e.g. fraud).

      So there’s no “cost” as such, the only potential cost (borne by other manufacturers and ultimately consumers) is if Psion were allowed a monopoly over the term.


      1. Agree with you but they started sellling the netbook pro in 2003 or 2004ish so the assertation they stoped in 2003 is totally wrong.

        Although the market was small I was aware of the Netbook and Netbook Pro long before the term Netbook was used in connection with the current crop of mini laptops.

        Not saying what is right or wrong as I do think the term netbook is a nice one, just pointing out the 2003 date being passed about all the web is wrong and the possible unforseen circumstances.

        You may say the term grew organically. I seem to remember a presentation (may have been by intel or MS) about a new class of device. I think they called it a Netbook as they do like to give each new device class a name.

        So not 100% sure it is organic growth. I think someone came along from a company with the name netbook and it caught on.

        To sum up I am not on anyones side. Just writing some additional details that seem to be getting missed.


        1. Right so @Sumocat found a press release from 2006 that could push the 3 year ‘prima facie’ abandonment window out to mid this year, but the second you stop using a mark you lose it so it’s moot anyway. Furthermore they used Netbook paraphenalia in the sworn statement so the fraud claim still has legs.

          Organic growth has to start somewhere but it seems even Intel have toned it down a bit with all this going on – check out


      1. Translation: “Cancellation Proceeding Pending”
        The step where they start inking up the “Canceled” stamp is called
        something else.

        Yes in other words, this can take years to run its full course – –
        Search the history of SPAM – which still hasn’t had a “final” decision.

        But if Intel wants to succeed, they need to file first with the Trademark
        Appeal Board. The district courts do not have Trademark jurisdiction
        until the TAB has refused something for the final time.

        Been there, tried that.
        Intel’s move is only publicity, not one that will work.

  4. Like I said, I think that netbooks aren’t too different for making them a special type of laptop. Sure, they’re cheaper and smaller, but they don’t make too much different like from a lcd tv to a crt one.

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