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Netbooks Popular Enough For a C&D From Psion 234

Kevin C. Tofel writes "After watching the netbook industry explode from nothing to 14 million sales in year, the time is right for Cease & Desist letters. Psion, a UK computer company that years ago sold a small sub-notebook called a netBook, is starting to protect the term. At least one netbook enthusiast site received a C&D for using the 'netbook' term and others are sure to follow. The site was given three months to stop using the term. Ironically, it isn't the enthusiast sites that coined the popular term. In the spring of 2008, Intel dubbed these devices netbooks to help define a market for their low-powered Intel Atom CPU."
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Netbooks Popular Enough For a C&D From Psion

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  • Its a cheddar thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thermian ( 1267986 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @04:01PM (#26225611)

    Cheddar, a class of cheese we all know, is in reality a particular type of cheese, from a particular location (not too far from where I live). Alas they didn't defend their mark, and now Cheddar is a generic term used to describe mostly low quality cheap cheese sold in vast amounts. Barely anyone has eaten 'real' Cheddar.

    They tried to retrieve their mark from this widespread use by other manufacturers, but failed because they left it too long.

    Thats what this is about, they want to retain their mark, its not about 'evil', if it were, then the real Cheddar makers are also evil, since this is a similar case. It may or may not be too late, but if they do nothing, they lose it anyway.

  • So... just curious: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @04:08PM (#26225673) Journal

    When do they start suing the Intel Corporation or Acer (one of whom had coined the term IIRC), and not the penny-ante hobbyist sites?

    Ah - but I guess it's cheaper and easier to pick on the small fry first, eh?

    Seriously - yes Psion has a real trademark on it, but what kind of screwball system do we all live in where (litigation-wise) the little guy gets it in the neck first?


  • Re:Hormel and Adobe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icegreentea ( 974342 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @04:16PM (#26225713)
    They still need to try. As stupid as this is, it's to be expected. Psion realistically does not have any chance of reclaiming exclusive use of the term netbook in regards to computers, and they know it. They're just doing it to go through the stupid steps of trademark law. Why the hell do you think they haven't sent C&Ds at Intel or Asus or any 'big' blog (Ars?). I mean, ASUS actively markets eeepcs as 'Netbooks' (see linky at the bottom). Psion is probably just throwing out some random C&Ds so when some greedy idiot shareholder or something complains about the trademark being violated, they can go 'well, we TRIED to protect it, but the courts ruled against us' at point at a couple random C&Ds.

  • by rm999 ( 775449 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @04:16PM (#26225715)

    My guess is there will be no lawsuits, because they have a registered trademark. If there are any lawsuits, it would be the likes of Intel bullying Psion out of their actively-used trademark, not the other way around.

  • Re:Jerks. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by frosty_tsm ( 933163 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @04:37PM (#26225861)

    Maybe there wasn't a need until now.

  • by ahecht ( 567934 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @04:51PM (#26225945) Homepage

    I never really liked the "Netbook" name all that much (especially since I use mine more for note taking and word processing, not surfing), and I think "Laptot" fits a whole lot better. Plus, since "Laptots" were African colonial troops in the service of France between 1750 and the early 1900s, it is unlikely to be trademarked.

  • Re:Jerks. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @04:56PM (#26225979)

    Their loss, a trademark that becomes a generic term is pretty much lost.

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @05:27PM (#26226205) Homepage Journal

    Cheddar, a class of cheese we all know, is in reality a particular type of cheese, from a particular location (not too far from where I live).

    Cheddar is also much less obvious a term as "netbook".

    Why? Cheddar is a real place. Netbook is a made up (and not very accurate) term.

  • Re:Hormel and Adobe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Epsillon ( 608775 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @08:40PM (#26227263) Journal

    OPL for a start. It was a surprisingly robust language back in the day, although when I created a stock control reporting app (the Psion dumped its data to a CSV file that was read into dBase for DOS - high tech shit indeed) in OPL on the Psion II (yeah, yeah, get off my lawn you damned kids) access to a UV EPROM eraser was almost mandatory... :o)

    OK, I'm joking. I think it's more likely to be "not pretending it's something it isn't." Small sub-notebooks (and these are not a new idea- the Tosh Libretto [wikipedia.org] was a fair example of the genre, although "cheap" from the SCC acronym was never something you could apply to a Libretto) are either woefully inadequate for anything more than a little web surfing, e-mailing and putzing around with a few productivity apps or just too small to be thermally stable and have decent battery life. I think the reason for the popularity of these devices right now has little to do with the form-factor, as we've established it is not new, but more the parallel proliferation of affordable mobile connectivity. Who the hell wants to lug about a full 7 or 8 lb notebook just to check the twits on twitter?

    Psions were presented as a small, neat form-factor with a small, neat embedded OS that was useful for a small subset of what a larger machine could do and, more importantly, were ready for use right after you hit that power button and only required another press to go into almost full off (the RTC remained powered, the memory was, if I recall, non-volatile). They also had battery life that wipes the floor with anything about today; a Psion 3 ran for what seemed like ever on two AAs - providing the battery cover didn't fall off, the sight of batteries rolling off being a familiar one to Psion 3 users. Not sure about the 5mx as I never was fortunate enough to own one. The Psions, however, never pretended to be fully featured machines in small cases, something some of these "netbook" manufacturers are guilty of portraying their wares as and I think that was the GP's point. Why do we need a full Windows or Linpus install when something like the Asus ExpressGate (Splashtop) with a bit of storage would do just as well and be available far faster and less power hungry to boot? That's the sort of thing Psion (the original version) would have been more than likely to come up with had they progressed logically with what they were so good at and "netBook" would have been an ideal name for the thing as that's what you'd do with it: Open it, tweet on the bus describing the liver spots (one of which looks like Australia) on the back of the bald guy's head sitting in front of you, close it and get on with getting to wherever you're going. Sadly, (or, perhaps, luckily for the rest of us) it was not to be. [theregister.co.uk]

    That said, this does sound to me more like "we missed the boat, so let's get some money off these bastards" chagrin than Psion actually wanting to use the mark again. They should be used to it by now; if The Register is to be believed, they missed quite a few boats.

  • the ship has sailed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alizard ( 107678 ) <alizard@NOspAM.ecis.com> on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @09:02PM (#26227383) Homepage

    Results 1 - 10 of about 27,000,000 for netbook.

    Dell Netbook Only $349 www.dell.com/mini Save with Dell's Powerful Mini PC Affordable, Powerful, and Mobile!

    IdeaPad S10 Netbook $349 www.Lenovo.com/IdeaPad Easy to Carry. Easy to Connect. Enviably Cool. All-New IdeaPad S10

    HP Mini Atom Netbook

    Like fiberglass and xerox, the word is in common usage and I expect the trademark to be invalidated the first time Psion runs into a company or individual ready to fight.

    A trademark has to be defended when it is first "misused", not years after the fact after it has been found to be worth megabucks. That trademark was registered in 1996, and that is when they should have started defending it. And that's what I expect a court to tell Psion.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev