Tenions are heating up as Psion launches a counter-suit against Intel for the alleged trademark infringement of the term Netbook.
Last month Intel filed suit seeking the cancellation of the trademark for the term Netbook, held by the Canadian-based firm Psion Teklogix. Psion is now countersuing Intel for roughly $1.2 billion, along with punitive damages and for ownership of the web address www.netbook.com. Psion's lawsuit matches Intel's lawsuit tit for tat, while denying Intel's allegations and attempting to draw out Intel's actions as malicious.
Psion originally laid claim to the term Netbook back in 1999 with the release of its strongARM-based Netbook mobile computer. On 2 October 2003, Psion announced the release of its Netbook Pro mobile computer, which featured an Intel XScale processor, Windows CE.NET and a SVGA TFT display. The Netbook Pro was described by Psion in the announcement as a connected mobile device that was not quite a PDA, nor quite a laptop, but engineered to address a clearly-defined growing market.
The trouble starts though in early 2008 when Intel decided that it would begin marketing the term Netbook to define the new class of inexpensive ultra-portable notebook that Asus discovered with the release of its Celeron-based EeePC. Of course, this Netbook marketing push coincided with the release of Intel's Atom platform, which was silicon designed specifically to target this newly popular Netbook market. Since then it seems that nearly all new netbooks feature the Intel Atom platform, but to many consumers a netbook is still just defined as simply a small and affordable laptop designed for basic tasks.
It appears the actual conflict between Intel and Psion started to gathering traction though in December 2008, as Psion at that time started to send out cease-and-desist notices to hundreds of companies, retailers and bloggers that were using the term netbook without Psion's permission. Of course, by this time, the term Netbook had already caught on in huge popularity. Although some have ceased using the term Netbook, such as in Google's Adsense network, other companies, such as Intel and Dell, have decided to fight.
It appears that Dell and Intel are arguing that the Netbook trademark should be revoked since Psion has not had a Netbook in production since 2003 and that Psion has no plans to build anymore of them. Intel is also arguing that the term netbook is now used by the public in a generic manner and that Psion lost control of its trademark by not acting in time to prevent this from happening. According to the Internet Archive, Psion was still selling the Netbook Pro online as recently as 2006.