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Monday, 29 December 2008 16:45

Cease and Desist: the netbook war of words

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Have you got one of those small, cheap sub-notebooks that have proved so popular thanks to the likes of Acer and ASUS? Better not set up a website about them or the trademark police might track you down.

Netbooks are popular, hugely popular in fact. Everyone from Dell through to Toshiba has joined the Eee PC goldrush.

Everyone but Apple, that is. Steve Jobs has made it clear that he has no real interest in the netbook market, if recent reports are to be believed.

One company that did have an interest, long before anyone else, was the British outfit Psion which launched the very first 'netBook' way back in 1999. Then things went pretty quiet from Psion, until now.

Even at the height of the netbook media feeding frenzy at the start of the year, when the Eee PC dominated the headlines, Psion was keeping quiet.

But now it appears that Psion is getting busy, and vocal, about how it has the trademark on the term netbook and is prepared to defend it.

It claims to have been using the term netbook continuously since 1999, although admits in recent years that the extent of that usage "has not been that great." However, the fact that Psion still supplies Psion netBook accessories helps with the cease and desist case.

Ah yes, cease and desist. Letters have been going out to websites which make a "direct, financial profit from use of the ‘Netbook’ trademark" apparently.

According to the Psion legal representatives, Origin, which represents the Psion trademark position the intent is clear: the "over-riding priority" is to persuade the retail sector to "adopt a different term."

Hey, good luck with that one! The term netbook has become pretty much generic, trademark or not. Despite the lawyers stating that Psion would prefer it if journalists and bloggers used some other term than netbook now that they are "aware of Psion's registered trade marks."

Thankfully, Origin has also confirmed that it does not intend to start a wave of lawsuits against journalists. So is this just a bit of Xmas puff and bluster, all Santa pants and no bite after all?

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