Dell and Intel have claimed that Psion isn't selling the netbook any longer, that the term has become generic, and that Psion did not use the Netbook trademark on device for five consecutive years following the date of registration in 2000.
But Psion disputes claims that they no longer sell the computer, telling jkOnTheRun:
In 2006, Psion in fact had multi-million dollar sales of the Netbook ® Pro computer in both the US and the EU. The bulk of sales were (and continue to be) in the highly specialised supply chain logistics area – perhaps not the easiest thing for third parties to get visibility on, but nevertheless, real sales to real customers in the US. And those real sales to real customers in the US continue even to this day. Attached is a typical Netbook ® Pro sales flyer (not included here), so you can see that Psion really were (and are) branding this computer as a ‘Netbook’.I have to say, if these claims are true then things just got tougher for anyone using the term "netbook." However, I'd like to know how they have multi-million dollar sales in this item when it's clearly marked as "discontinued" on their website (image below, click to enlarge, just in case they change the page).
I can quite understand why people might have assumed that sales ceased a while back – it’s not as if the product has been in Best Buy. But those people simply had no access to Psion’s confidential sales information.
So the facts are that, although manufacture has been discontinued, sales in the US and EU have not. And its continuing sales that are important to preventing a trademark from becoming abandoned. We’ll of course be setting the record straight in our court filings.
Incidentally, manufacture of the Netbook ® Pro had to cease prematurely not because of any lack of demand. It was because supplies of a replacement for a specialised chip controller could not be found – the Netbook ® Pro had very sophisticated power management, given it 8 hours of runtime and 10 days in standby, as well as instant-on (still an amazing feature in a laptop). Because of the sophisticated nature of the Netbook ® Pro design, a simple replacement controller could not be found and that meant that manufacture had to cease once those supplies of controllers were exhausted; it was a great pity.
I hope this clarifies the situation; Psion continues to sell the Netbook ® Pro computer. It’s got all the invoices to prove multi-million dollar sales in the US in 2006, and sales that continue even to this day. There’s been no abandonment of the trademark.
Just because we’re not selling tens of thousands through Best Buy doesn’t mean we’re not entitled to our trademark.
Assuming Psion is indeed selling these things, there is still another issue to be fought over: the generic-ness of the term "netbook." Sometimes a term just becomes too generic to be trademarked.
And since we've got nettops (desktop versions) as well, I can see a whole learning curve (and headache) if the term has to change.