Lessons learnt the likely loss of the “netbook” trademark

Reposted from the Save the Netbooks Blog:

There’s a number of things that Psion could have done to avoid losing the “netbook” trademark.

For a start, trademarks relate to a specific class of goods or services. The “netbook” mark #75215401 is just for “laptop computers”, as in the devices themselves. When Psion stop selling the devices (either permanently or by not shipping for 3+ years) then the trademark should self destruct.

Apple’s iBook trademark #75584233 on the other hand covers “computers, computer hardware, computer peripherals and users manuals sold therewith” so they’re good to go for as long as they offer peripherals. That said, in this kb article the definition of “obsolete” is quite clear:

“Obsolete products are those that were discontinued more than seven years ago. Apple has discontinued all hardware service for obsolete products with no exceptions. Service providers cannot order parts for obsolete products.

Aside from some quirks realting to California laws a “Petition for Cancellation” of the iBook trademark on the basis of abandonment could well be successful today.

Had they have held a stock of Netbooks and/or Netbook Pros for (restricted?) sale after manufacturing stopped may have been another way Psion could have avoided abandonment. Indeed not listing the devices as “discontinued” on their web site may have given them 3 years grace (e.g. through at least August 2009). Even an early announcement of a new netBook might have held off the dogs too.

An administrative error (that is, including a ‘Netbook’ rather than a ‘Netbook Pro’ brochure in the 2006 Combined Declararation of Use and Incontestability) led to Dell’s claim of fraud that may well be upheld.

But the ommission that undoubtedly caused the most damage was not acting quickly when others started using the mark. There are many ways to detect such usage – a Google Alert for ‘netbook’ or a Domain Tools alert for domain registrations would have resulted in an email alert within hours of the first [ab]uses and they could have acted quickly to stave off the onslaught.

Of course then the “netbook” industry wouldn’t be what it is today… the devices would have been called something like “webbooks” and none of this ever would have happened.