updated 12:35 pm EST, Fri February 27, 2009
Psion Defends Netbook TM
Psion today responded to challenges by Dell and Intel over its trademark on the term "netbook" by claiming that the computers are still sold. A company spokesperson acknowledges to jkOnTheRun that actual manufacturing of the Netbook Pro has stopped but that sales are still ongoing and would thus show that Psion continues to depend on the trademark of its system for commercial success.
The now primarily Canada-based electronics company describes the Dell and Intel claims as the result of confusion over where the Netbook Pro is sold, which is primarily through business-only channels for supply management. Most Intel-based netbooks, including Dell's, are sold directly to home users online or at retail stores.
"Just because we're not selling tens of thousands [of Netbook Pros] through Best Buy doesn't mean we're not entitled to our trademark," the unnamed spokesperson says.
While the sales claim is reportedly bolstered by the existence of invoices for sales, Psion doesn't address claims by either Dell or Intel that the term "netbook" has become generic through frequent public use and can't be enforced regardless of whether Psion profits from its older system. Brands such as Coke and Kleenex have in the past lost some of their enforceability after the product names became ubiquitous in popular culture.
The responses from Dell and Intel are widely believed to have been triggered by site takedown requests from Psion that have forced high-profile netbook fan sites to change their names and which have curbed the use of the term, which in turn hurts the ability of PC makers to market their systems to an audience that expects the term to be used. Most companies now refer to the systems as "mini notebooks," though MSI continues to market the Wind as a netbook.