Skip to main content

Psion Countersues Intel Over Netbook Term

Tenions are heating up as Psion launches a counter-suit against Intel for the alleged trademark infringement of the term Netbook.

Last month Intel filed suit seeking the cancellation of the trademark for the term Netbook, held by the Canadian-based firm Psion Teklogix.  Psion is now countersuing Intel for roughly $1.2 billion, along with punitive damages and for ownership of the web address www.netbook.com.  Psion's lawsuit matches Intel's lawsuit tit for tat, while denying Intel's allegations and attempting to draw out Intel's actions as malicious.

Psion originally laid claim to the term Netbook back in 1999 with the release of its strongARM-based Netbook mobile computer.  On 2 October 2003, Psion announced the release of its Netbook Pro mobile computer, which featured an Intel XScale processor, Windows CE.NET and a SVGA TFT display.  The Netbook Pro was described by Psion in the announcement as a connected mobile device that was not quite a PDA, nor quite a laptop, but engineered to address a clearly-defined growing market.

The trouble starts though in early 2008 when Intel decided that it would begin marketing the term Netbook to define the new class of inexpensive ultra-portable notebook that Asus discovered with the release of its Celeron-based EeePC.  Of course, this Netbook marketing push coincided with the release of Intel's Atom platform, which was silicon designed specifically to target this newly popular Netbook market.  Since then it seems that nearly all new netbooks feature the Intel Atom platform, but to many consumers a netbook is still just defined as simply a small and affordable laptop designed for basic tasks.

It appears the actual conflict between Intel and Psion started to gathering traction though in December 2008, as Psion at that time started to send out cease-and-desist notices to hundreds of companies, retailers and bloggers that were using the term netbook without Psion's permission.  Of course, by this time, the term Netbook had already caught on in huge popularity.  Although some have ceased using the term Netbook, such as in Google's Adsense network, other companies, such as Intel and Dell, have decided to fight.

It appears that Dell and Intel are arguing that the Netbook trademark should be revoked since Psion has not had a Netbook in production since 2003 and that Psion has no plans to build anymore of them.  Intel is also arguing that the term netbook is now used by the public in a generic manner and that Psion lost control of its trademark by not acting in time to prevent this from happening.  According to the Internet Archive, Psion was still selling the Netbook Pro online as recently as 2006.

  • eddieroolz
    Doesn't matter if they don't use the trademark though, they filed for it and were given...if they revoke Psion's trademark, then it will be a classic case of big companies bullying smaller ones.
    Reply
  • NuclearShadow
    Well Intel hasn't used the Pentium name for sometime now I wonder how Intel would feel is Psion decided to start using it on a new brand of processors. If Psion loses in court then I hope they do something like this because I would love to see Intel trying to explain why its okay from them to infringe on others trademarks but not viceversa.
    Reply
  • Regected
    I don't think this is a case of a big company bullying a smaller company at all. The term netbook was coined from "internet notebook." This looks like a case of a little company trying to milk money out of a bigger company.
    Reply
  • Raidur
    "Intel is also arguing that the term netbook is now used by the public in a generic manner and that Psion lost control of its trademark by not acting in time to prevent this from happening."

    That is the most BS argument I've ever heard. I hope Intel loses...
    Reply
  • that_aznpride101
    Terms like "netbook" are similar to words like "rollerblade," "xerox" or "kleenex" which at one time were patented brand names but now are used as generic terms. I don't think these companies won their lawsuits for every blogger or company that used those terms, so I highly doubt Psion will win this battle. I hate to say this, but I'm cheering for Intel on this one.
    Reply
  • tayb
    Big business bullying around small business. The trademark was given to Psion. Think of some other name.
    Reply
  • fo0b4er
    Hey NuclearShadow Intel is selling Pentium processors right now every day! In fact I sell several Pentium Dual Core computers a day at work! Check it out: http://www.intel.com/products/processor/pentium_dual-core/specs.htm
    Reply
  • skine
    NuclearShadowWell Intel hasn't used the Pentium name for sometime now I wonder how Intel would feel is Psion decided to start using it on a new brand of processors. If Psion loses in court then I hope they do something like this because I would love to see Intel trying to explain why its okay from them to infringe on others trademarks but not viceversa.It's only been two months since Intel released a Pentium product.
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    The thing is, the class of laptops we now know could've been called something else - heck, it could've been called anything else. We just happened to catch on to the name "netbook".

    Xerox, rollerblade and kleenex all refer to a brand which were so prevalent, it became synonymous with competing products of the same kind. Xeroxes were and are still called Photocopiers, Kleenex are in reality tissues, and rollerblades....well, they're rollerblades.

    My point, netbook and xerox are in a totally different situation.
    Reply
  • Neog2
    Its funny because i never knew intel had anything to do with making the
    term netbook as popular as it is today.
    I mean you dont see anything like Intel's netbook platform on these netbooks.
    And besides they are suing for 1.2 billion. Why?

    Im not saying they shouldnt be awarded some money but how do you come up
    with this figure. Your company was very profitable in the so called netbook
    business. Actually they didnt make 1.2 billion dollars over the whole time
    they where selling netbooks. And lets not talk about actual real dollars not
    even 100 million. So how could you possibly be asking for a billion dollars.
    Get real stop trying to milk it.

    Intel isnt even selling netbooks. They just used the term to describe small
    laptops that arent really laptops.

    And if you really want to get into it. There so called netbook isnt anything
    like whats out now. There stuff was always more like an organizer I thought.
    Reply