back to article Blogger fights Psion's claim to 'netbook' name

A campaign has been launched to thwart Psion Techlogix's attempt to re-assert its trademark over the name "netbook". A blogger who claimed to have helped thwart Dell's attempt to trademark "cloud computing" has called on OEMs and retailers to stand their ground and continue using the phrase "netbook" when describing sub- …


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  1. Tim Cook

    Damn shame

    There is only one Netbook, and Psion were quite right to point that out IMO.

    Come on Psion, get the old band back together and knock out a new Symbian netbook, show the generic dross how it's done...

  2. Shonko Kid

    The difference...

    between this and the Dell case, is that Psion had product under the 'netbook' brand, for quite some time, whilst it was trademarked. And IIRC with trademarks you have to actively guard against their misuse, which is exactly what Psion are now doing. Mind you, their case would be strengthed if they had something in the market...

  3. James Pickett


    Have they thought this through? If they succeed in getting everyone to stop using the word, then something else will be substituted, which they will then have to use to get their product noticed! It will have to be good though - anyone know what happened to the 'Apricot' one..?

    The association of the term with Psion is long dead. Only lawyers will make any money out of it now.

  4. jon fisher
    Thumb Up


    "We have been considering adding new models to our 'Netbook' line for a while"


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Psion are right

    Just because many people / companies are breaking their copyright does not mean to say that they are right, and that it should become a generic term. For precedence and outrageous "chutzpah" (i hate that word) see how the mighty M$ managed to argue that "Windows" belongs to them.

    Just because Psion are minnows does not mean they should be trodden upon by big boys and their chutzpah and paid supporters.

    Chutzpah or what? Really chutzpah. Really, really chutzpah. Outrageously chutzpah if you think about it.

    How I hate that word!


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They let netbook become well known and common. Now they'll ban use of it for anything except their netbooks. So all searches from customers used to use name netbook will go to Psion.

    I forgot a standard 1. 2. 3. profit! ;)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Ultra-portable != netbook

    The problem with using ultra-portable as a synonym for netbooks is that ultra-portable already describes very small but fully specified laptops like the Sont Vaio P.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    I would of thought you could do better than to mix up compliment and complement. The Reg seems to be loosing it. Their is no excuse for it. Its a disgrace. Your reputation for voracity is damaged beyond repare.

    (Fixed. Gavin, bless, likes to leave us these ones last thing California time so we've got lots of moaning comments by the time we wake up - Ed)

  9. Sam Johnston
    Thumb Up

    Psion Teklogix may lose Netbook trademark

    But wait there's more (from /. post):

    "Psion Teklogix, who own international trademarks on the term "netbook" relating to a product that was discontinued in 2003, had recently sent cease and desist letters to "literally hundreds" of recipients, including netbook enthusiast sites. The Save the Netbooks campaign was launched by an Australian firm "to fight the impending trademark threat" and has since declared victory and retired after only 48 hours. Having already had some success in their first mission to reverse the AdWords ban, they were in the process of filing a petition to cancel with USPTO when they discovered they had been beaten to it by none other than Dell Computer (who we discussed last year on the other side of a similar scandal relating to the "cloud computing" trademark). In the petition, in addition to abandonment and genericness Dell also alleged fraud, claiming that a Sr Product Manager at Psion Teklogix had given a false declaration of use under penalty of purgery back in 2006. In any case it is now very likely that the term "netbook" will be unencumbered and free for all to use (for better or worse)."

  10. Andrew Garrard


    Much though I wish the Psion crowd well, I have to admit that any kind of ban is a bit overkill; heavy-handedness doesn't make anyone friends.

    That said, I have two problems with the name "netbook".

    1) Yes, it referred to a Psion product. Seriously, how hard could it have been to find a name that didn't already belong to something? It's only marketing fluff anyway - "budget subnotebook" would have covered it. IT has far too much of names being reused, and it's hopelessly confusing at the best of times; this particular case is reasonably clear at the moment, but in five years' time there are going to be confused people on eBay.

    2) People can't even decide what "netbook" means anyway. Sony's new subnotebook gets bashed for being an "expensive netbook". Fujitsu expand a long line of subnotebooks and get accused of producing a netbook. Someone brings out a cheap laptop with a 13" screen and it gets called a "big netbook". If we're going to use the term, at least use it right.

    Of course, it's not particularly meaningful anyway. A device dedicated to web surfing would be something more like the Nokia n770 and successors. An EeePC is certainly no better (and mostly worse) at web surfing than the average laptop, cheap and small or otherwise. My "netbook" gets used for programming and photo editing, rarely for web surfing. What netbooks have done is replace the eBay market for old/slow subnotebooks - that's a good thing, but it doesn't need a marketing-fluff name.

  11. spegru
    Thumb Up

    Wouldnt it be something

    if Psion brought out a new netbook.

    I've got an original and it even still gets used sometimes

  12. Mark Jan

    Who'd have thought...?

    Who'd have thought that the rump of what should have been a great British company, now resorts to pursuing these pointless and embarrassing actions?

    And to think Bill Gates was once reputedly scared and admiring of the company.

    I'm no great Apple fan, but if only Psion could have had someone like Steve Jobs at the helm...

  13. Anonymous Coward

    They're too late

    Horse, stable door, etc.

    You can't stop people using words, no matter how much you might like to.

    After all, do you say "I googled it", or "I used the Google search engine to look it up"?

    Do you say an altered photo has been "photoshopped", or "altered with digital image manipulation software"?

    A "netbook" is a netbook, regardless of what Psion want you to call it.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Adwords ban?

    Maybe they should just ban it on ebay instead, as that's the only place you'll find a psion netbook anymore. Moaning bastards.

  15. RichyS
    Paris Hilton

    What is a 'netbook'

    I'm not sure that I've heard of these netbooks before. But they sound very similar to SCCs. Are you trying to suggest that 'Small, Cheap Computer' isn't the generic term?

    Paris, 'cos she's cheap.

  16. dervheid

    As rediculous as it would be if...

    a certain fast food outlet was trying to stop people using the term "burger", when they meant "beefburger"

  17. Tom
    Thumb Down

    Too late Psion

    Due to the popularity of netbooks, and the wide range of companies making them the name netbook has already become generic. Just google netbook (ha another one) and see the results.

    Results 1 - 10 of about 34,600,000 for netbook

    Results 1 - 10 of about 16,600,000 for dell netbook

    Results 1 - 10 of about 10,200,000 for asus netbook

    Results 1 - 10 of about 10,700,000 for samsung netbook (too bad I can't buy one in Canada)

    Results 1 - 10 of about 678,000 for "samsung netbook" a win even in quotes.

    Results 1 - 10 of about 274,000 for Psion netbook Sure, everyone thinks of Psion when they hear "netbook".

  18. Andus McCoatover

    Hoover? Windows? etc..@They're too late

    Yup. Now, forget netbooks. They aint books, and they don't necessarily access the web/net. S'pose the Nokia "fart-phones" are also 'netbooks' too?

    What about (I actually love this) Laptots? Bit more descriptive, even if it does get you on the Kiddie-Fiddler radar for a bit.

    Paris, 'cos I havent used her for awhile....

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Ghost of Psion Past

    If this was the Psion of old, they would have seen this market emerging from a mile off and had a full range of netBooks™ on the market already. But they discontinued it.

    They were 10 years too early with the MCs and 10 years too early with the netBook™, and just as its time has finally arrived they've closed shop on it!

    David Potter was always complaining about the rising pound and the cost of local manufacture. Well now EEE laptops are big business, manufacture has been outsourced for years and the pound is worth half a glass of tap water (Mind you, at least we're not resorting to just printing more money like Mugabi or any of those other barmpot republics do just before they colapse into the abyss!) so why isn't Psion grabbing this opportunity with both hands?

    A new Symbian netBook™ would be a delight, though I suppose Psion's most likely route would be Linux. Perhaps the cool response to Linux EEE laptops along with the high return rates scares them off?

    Update: Ah. Please disregard the 'barmpot' comment. Thanks.

  20. Andus McCoatover
    Paris Hilton

    Hoover? Windows? etc..@They're too late

    Yup. Now, forget netbooks. They aint books, and they don't necessarily access the web/net. S'pose the Nokia "fart-phones" are also 'netbooks' too?

    What about (I actually love this) Laptots? Bit more descriptive, even if it does get you on the Kiddie-Fiddler radar for a bit.

    Paris, 'cos I havent used her for awhile....

  21. Shades

    How many people...

    say "I'll just put the hoover round" yet actually own a Hoover?


  22. Paul Ross


    Why don't Psion relaunch their old PDA designs but with an updated version of symbian and bluetooth + wifi.

    The series 3 psions fetch a lot on ebay, so surely there is still a market for the simcard-free device! Heck, I am using a Treo 90 and its pretty handy with long battery life.

    I would buy a pocketsurfer if it were not for the reports of poor build quality. This was never an issue with the Psion I had.

    Sounds like a more productive use of their time instead of suing people.

  23. Jolyon

    eBay Ban

    Would do for me - pain filtering out all the crap that comes up on my NetBook searches.

    Psion's machines were brilliant and I still use mine (although I might replace it with one of these new devices if they can match the battery life).

    Always been angry at Psion for screwing up this product - brilliant OS, superb keyboard, good apps, great battery life, perfect screen ergonomics, odd leather cover, stupid price tag, useless marketing, ultimate failure.

  24. Andrew Moore

    It's Psion Teklogix-

    So really it's just the ghost of Psion

  25. Gareth


    Are going to stand by & take this effrontery? How the hell do you preannounce something?

    Surely the fact that you've made *an* announcement makes that The Announcement, and anything subsequent becomes postannouncements.

    /me goes for quiet lay down & dried frog pills.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    On the one hand we have a self-aggrandizing member of the blogosphere who doesn't understand the difference between Dell trying to trademark a term already in widespread use vs. Psion trying to stop other companies using a term that they had already trademarked and used on a real, shipping product. I could root for Psion here just because that sort of blogtard really irks me.

    On the other hand, we have the ghost of a once-great company rattling its chains and getting entirely too heavy-handed in their response. That irks me too.

  27. Neoc

    Too little, too late

    I would have sympathy for Psion had they reacted a year or so ago, when the term "netbook" was first used to discuss the Eee-like subnotebooks. Had they turned around *then* and said 'sorry, it's our brand-name', I would have cheered them on, even though that line was (is?) discontinued.

    But waiting 1+year until the industry has adopted the word and *then* bitching about it. Nope, sorry. One of the responsibilities as a Trademark owner is *defending* your trademark as soon as you find an infringement (registering the trademark, BTW, simply allows you to assert your right to the trademark - it does not mean the government will do it for you). Other companies found this out the hard way (think "aspirin", for example).

    So in this case, either Psion dropped the ball and did not apply the due care and diligence it was supposed to apply to the protection of its brand-name... or they're doing the Trademark equivalent of what other companies do with Patents.

    Either way, I personally would rule against them. But then again, IANAL.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Well, well, well

    I'm gonna have to get a xerox of those letters, sit down with a box of kleenex since I'll be bawling my eyes out while googling for photoshopped pics on my netbook.

  29. ajc07977

    I still dream the 'If only ...' scenario to this day

    Bit Fiddler has eloquently (and passionately / emotionally?) said the crux of what I wanted say. I have had 'Netbook' as a Google saved search for many many years now (I have had numerous Psion machines since I was at school back in the 80s and later at my 1st job at BBC TVC at Wood Lane).

    I am (sorry I know it is boring, but heck I still feel SO passionate about this) ... STILL mad at Psion for screwing up all those years ago + bailing out of the consumer sector. I am also still ASTONISHED at how brilliant my EPOC Psion NetBook still is, (and how long the battery lasts). Psion got arrogant and lazy & did not know what modern marketing and branding or 'spinning' was. Very sad, VERY British disease. Back in early 00s everyone who loved (or wanted to like) Psions such as the excellent 5mx was simply wanting to keep all the good bits, but with a few new things:

    * Synchronisation that just worked: ironically given to us in 2.3.3. as Psion sailed off into the corporate only harbours.

    * I will leave out colour screens arguement (in 5mx or Revo form size) as I personally agree with Psion that it would have had detrimental effect on battery life.

    ... Without going into excessive detail, basically new things like Bluetooth, USB ports etc etc were becoming excepted standards ... and Psion seemed to be doing diddly about reating to a changing marletplace. Technical hurdles to integrate into ER5/ER6+ ? - hell yes I am sure. But if you are the LEADER in something ...surely it is worth fighting on? Being OPEN MINDED about attracting fresh blood (younger and older customers who are less geeky or technically minded & like 'wow' factor), BUT while keeping the old faithful on board.

    Sorry to rant so uncontrollably ... but I laugh at all these crappy 'netbook' pretenders. My EPOC NetBook (TM) is still king for me in form factor and speed. Instant on, no gimmicks, touchscreen AND nearly 100% sized keyboard.

    P.S. - I would still PAY handsomely to upgrade the screen to a transflective (daylight freindly) alternative - just like the option you had on the NetPad.

    P.P.S. - My Nokia 9500 Communicator is still second best (and hinge on one side is now broken) ... maybe I should got an S60 E90 as a replacement instead of my ergonomic joke of a Windows Mobile HTC Touch HD* ? *From all the hype I eventually got this on contract (Orange) ... 1st consideration of a Windows Mobile device ... not bad speed / reliabilty-wise ... but I miss Nokia Communicator form-factor.

    rant over. Andrew (UK)

  30. Andrew Garrard

    Psion FX irony

    Actually, I'd forgotten this. Anandtech did a feature on a "Psion FX" concept - a Psion 5 form-factor machine with updated technology, one variant of which would be a very small conventional subnotebook. I remember thinking of it when the EeePC was first launched - although the Vaio P is nearer to it. I always thought the 5 and 5MX were more appealing than the 7/Netbook, although a decent and cheap "always on" internet device to leave by the sofa would still be handy. (Existing laptops and n770-alikes don't quite cut it.)

    As for phones, I'm tempted by a TouchHD but would probably wait for the keyboarded Touch Pro 2 to turn up (or for someone to make an Android phone with a WVGA screen). I like my Tosh G900 (and it's why I wasn't prepared to get a 1024x600 "netbook", hence my mini-note), but it's painfully slow - especially compared with a Psion!

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