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Intel contests 'netbook' copyright claims

Posted: 02 Mar 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:netbook copyright? PC manufacturer? Intel Psion legal fight?

Intel Corp. has followed Dell Inc.'s legal moves against small computer maker Psion Teklogix's efforts to stop the use of the term 'Netbooks' for the latest craze in small laptops.

The British group is claiming it owns exclusive rights to the 'Netbook' brand and late last year sent out 'cease and desist' notices to other PC manufacturers, asking them to refrain from using the term netbook as it was copyrighted.

It asserts that it created and trademarked the term 'netbook with the Psion Netbook handheld computer, widely used in the 1990's.

Last month Dell decided to fight back and asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to overturn the trademark and patent and for the name to be made free for all. It accused Psion of making a fraudulent claim when it filed for continued use of the trademark in November 2006, which it is now seeking to enforce.

Generic term
In its action at the U.S. District Court of Northern California, Intel is arguing that Psion's claims are unfounded, as the trademark has been invalid since 2003.

It noted that Psion discontinued its last Netbook, the Netbook Pro, in 2003, and had stopped using the trademark for five consecutive years after registration, as required.

In its claim, Intel states: "Psion claims it has exclusive right to use the term netbook. It does not.

"The consuming public has already adopted netbook as a generic term for a category of notebook computer that are small, inexpensive, and contain less processing power... It is well established that netbook does not operate to identify a single source, or brand, of any such computer; netbooks are simply extensions of the notebook category."

Intel has been using the term netbook extensively in its marketing campaigns for its low-power Atom chip, which powers almost all the netbooks currently on the market.

In a statement, Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy said: "Our view is that the term 'netbook' is a widely used generic term that describes a class of affordable computing devices, much like the term 'notebook' or 'ultra-mobile PC.'

"In order to continue to use the generic term 'netbook' we filed the case. We are asking for a decision to clarify that the use of 'netbook' does not infringe anyone's rights," said Mulloy.

Apart from Dell with its hugely successful Inspiron Mini models, other companies that have launched netbooks include Samsung, Sony, Asus, HP, Acer and Lenovo.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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