Dell is playing hardball with Psion Teklogix, asking the US authorities throw out its claim over the "netbook" name. The PC-giant-turned-netbook-convert filed legal documents Tuesday that asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel Psion's trademark. It accused Psion of making a fraudulent claim when if filed for …
Now let's see...
Surely the best way for Psion to fight the first part of that argument is to make their own machine. This would be very interesting. A Symbian-based machine, or maybe a giant version of the N810 running Maemo? Email and Web clients shouldn't be a problem, and isn't there a Java-based Office suite out there somewhere? I'm very attached to my eeePC, but the keyboard is frankly pants compared to my old Series 7, and I'd much rather have a touch screen than the fiddly glide pad on the Asus. The much-hyped battery life of the Atom-based chipset is also frankly rubbish when you compare it to the nine hours I used to get out of my Series 7.
Bye-bye MS windows.
If my memory is correct, MS had their application for the trademark "Windows" rejected 2 or 3 times because it was even then generic.
I can easily think of a number of other trademarks that are virtually generic, such as "Hoover" and "iPod". Will any trademark that becomes generic automagically become invalid?
Sour Grapes ?
Maybe Psion did have the rights to the "netbook" trademark but this does strike of having had no success where others have and desperately scraping the barrel for any crumbs they can get, compensation for their own failure to capitalise on potential.
They should get on the bandwagon, make a killing with their own world-class competition beating netbook, rather than ride of the coat tails of those who turned the idea of a small laptop the size of a book which can connect to The net into a successful business.
I think it's also too late, netbook has become a generic term. If Psion win, manufacturer's will simply invent another term - the public will call them netbooks regardless - and Psion will have shot themselves in the foot.
Psion's best leveraging of the new uptake of netbooks would have been to proudly claim, "hey look, we were there first". This just makes them look petty and jealous.
Psion had a better design
The sad irony is that the Psion netBook hardware design with its touch screen and spring-loaded clam opening action is so much better than all the current generation “netbooks”. Whilst my Dell Mini-9 is great (especially for the kids), but I’d buy a Psion with real windows in it.
Instead of screwing other vendors for royalties.. they should use it for publicity
What a fall from grace.
From innovative market leader, to Trade Mark troll in just a few years. Shame.
Still, I don't think they have much chance here. The US requires use of the mark on the products listed in the app. If the applicant has no intention to use it in those categories, this counts as "fraud" and the whole thing can get thrown out. This has been a highly successful approach in a number of recent high profile cases. And yes, it's clearly now a generic term, although may not have been at the time. Hard to tell though - the thing I use to clean the floor says Dyson on the side, but I call it a Hoover anyway...
read the great article on Psion by Reg?
Cos if you did you would know that all the great people from Psion left a long time ago, the strange thing is Psion still own the rights to the machine and no one has offered to buy the rights to their PDA/Netbook patents/license for such a long time.
In my opinion netbook is not generic enough yet, iPod, Hoover and Tomtom is more generic nowadays than netbook, but you don't see those company's losing their rights to the name.
Netbooks just has not been popular enough to become defacto standard yet. I don't understand why it is so difficult for marketting people to just call it a laptop because at the end of the day thats what it is. There is no real difference between laptops of old and these system, with the exception that they are more smaller and don't come with an optical drive. Old laptops didn't even have the same performance of these atom systems. Sony's been building tiny laptops for ages it just was not economically viable to buy them for normal consumers then, but due to price drops and miniturisation and downspecing they become much more viable.
The real reason the so called Netbook is so popular today is not because of the branding of the word netbook to create its own division, but actually good marketting like the beach towl lady and the lower costs and the social aspect of the world to be "online" for as much as possible and also the smaller size making it more stylish. To me its more of a "Lifestyle Laptop" rather than a "Netbook".
I still hope that the Psion crew get back together and bring out a new 5mx or new netbook with an atom cpu and show how a really portable OS should work (instant on, touch screen tabbing, multitasking of the old EPOC OS). I doubt that but I will still be using my 5mx which still remarkably works well with 2 AA batteries running for an entire days usage.
The most impressive thing about Psion's netBook and 5mx - and other commenters have already mentioned the excellent keyboard, clamshell design, touch screen, and fantastic battery life (20 days on a pair of rechargeable AA batteries for the 5mx under normal use) - is their ability to turn on and off instantly. This translates the netBook's 8 or 9 hours battery life into 2 or 3 days' real use before needing recharging, as one can switch the thing off between sentences as one thinks what to type next, and on again when inspiration strikes. Moblin's much-hyped 5 second boot-up (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/30/moblin2_alpha1_release/) pales by comparison to this fraction of a second on-off ability. I'm still amazed that no other manufacturer has stepped into Psion's shoes to provide this capability. Surely I'm not the only person who would like this instant start-up capability on my main computer (or more precisely suspend and restart times). I assume the problem must be compatibility with x86 chips. Psion used ARM - but they sponsored Linux on ARM before withdrawing from the market, so one could presumably have a modern mainstream OS with instant-on on ARM. Or one could presumably use EPOC's descendant Symbian -- though I've never had a symbian phone so I've no idea how the operating system has fared under Nokia's stewardship.
I still use my netBook and Series 5mx machines, as the new netbooks, while better for wifi, webbrowsing and running the mainstream apps I need for my work (including using utf8 instead of ANSI) simply cannot compete with the battery life, the portability of the S5, and the agenda and database programs, combined with the instant-on.
So let's see... Psion gets a trademark on the name "Netbook" many years ago, then makes not one but two portable computers under that trademark (Netbook and Netbook Pro).
Some people start using the trademark without permission, so Psion asks nicely that they stop using it, and to please use another term.
Then Dell, the 600-lb gorilla, throws a pile of lawyers at Psion, all so they can start using Psion's trademark.
And somehow Psion is the bad guy here? WTF?
Bayer trademarked 'Aspirin' but failed to adequately protect it. Despite the fact they still make the product to this day they lost the trademark for Aspirin many, many years ago.
Making a product is not enough to retain the trademark. If you want an example then start a web blog and refer to a ball point pen as a Biro...... Biro is not a generic term and you can expect to hear from Bic's lawyers in due course.