Who Owns the Netbook Trademark?
Psion (the mobile device maker that eventually fell off a cliff) may wind up haunting netbook makers. Apparently, Psion Teklogix holds a trademark on the netbook term and is sending cease and desist letters to some folks. The story first surfaced on jkOnTheRun, a blog that covers mobile devices. So what does that mean to major PC companies that market Netbook-braded products? Hmmm…
First, a little background: In the PC industry, low-cost sub-notebooks are increasingly called Netbooks by vendors, partners and bloggers (including The VAR Guy). Lenovo, for one, recently introduced the IdeaPad S Series Netbooks. Intel uses the Netbook term frequently. Even Gartner, the IT research firm, embraced Netbook as a general term in its latest research about exploding demand for sub-notebooks. Netbooks are also well-known because many of the most popular devices come with Linux pre-installed, putting intense pressure on Microsoft’s Windows business.
Now, for the twist: Psion introduced the Netbook term in 1999, and allegedly has a trademark on the term. If true, high-tech companies may eventually have to negotiate with Psion for the rights to use the Netbook term.
Still, it’s a bit premature for The VAR Guy to toss around “what if” scenarios. Most high-tech firms have been closed for the holidays, and requests for comment from Psion, Intel and Lenovo have yet to be returned.
In the meantime, The VAR Guy will keep blogging away from his Netbook, er, sub-notebook.