Psion is claiming that it has a trademark in effect for the term ‘netbook’ and that no one is allowed to use it. The company, which stopped producing a CE powered ‘netbook’ back in 2003, is threatening that the use of the term must stop by the end of March 2009. If anyone, which includes OEMs such as Dell uses the term, they risk being sued. Apparently Psion is also claiming that journalists and bloggers will be subject to being sued if they continue using the term as well.

But in a recent article over at ars technica it appears that Dell is having none of this nonsense:

A name in danger of extinction (or perhaps more accurately: imprisonment), the netbook has gained a new ally in the form of Dell, Inc. The netbook maker indirectly lent a hand to the Save the Netbooks campaign this week by petitioning to cancel a small company’s trademark on the term.

Netbooks — compact, low-cost, and low-margin notebooks primarily designed for surfing the Web on-the-go — have grown quite rapidly in popularity over the last year or two. Sales are quite strong, especially amid an economic downturn, but Psion, a company that stopped selling a Windows-CE-powered “Psion netBook” in 2003, is none too happy. As the owner of a trademark on the word “netbook” (which is still live, according to the USPTO), the company recently flexed its IP muscles.

Psion went on a cease-and-decist rampage in January, threatening journalists, manufacturers, and even bloggers in order to get them to stop using the term by the end of March 2009. It even convinced Google to ban the term from AdSense ads. Psion says it is “reaffirming” its trademark and wants the freedom to perhaps make one in the future, but Dell is having none of it.

Dell’s second argument — fraud — is perhaps the most salient. The computer maker notes that Senior Psion Product Manager, Herb Turzer, swore to the USPTO in 2006 that his company was still using the netbook trademark “in commerce on or in connection with all goods listed” in its registration. Turzer also stated at the time that Psion “has used [its] trademark in commerce for five (5) consecutive years after the date of registration.” Psion may have actually filed for the trademark in 1996, but it was only awarded the mark in 2000. Dell argues that Psion’s discontinuation of its Windows CE netbook in 2003 constitutes fraud on the part of Turzer’s statements.

This should be interesting if Psion can keep their trademark and prohibit anyone, inclduing bloggers & journalists from using the term ‘netbook’. I guess if Ford wanted they could prohibit us from using the term ‘car.’ LOL This seems to go against all common sense.

What do you think? Should the term ‘netbook’ be a trademark of one company only?

Comments welcome.