Psion And Intel Settle Over Netbook Name


The fight centered on whether a company could own the right to the term “netbook.”

Intel and Psion, a company that specialixes in creating rugged devices and developing RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology, both announced on 1 June that the companies had resolved a trademark dispute concerning the term “netbook.”

On Monday, Psion issued a statement on its Web site that claimed it had settled the trademark dispute with Intel, which had been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

“The litigation has been settled through an amicable agreement under which Psion will voluntarily withdraw all of its trademark registrations for ‘Netbook,’” according to Psion’s statement. “Neither party accepted any liability. In light of this amicable agreement, Psion has agreed to waive all its rights against third parties in respect of past, current or future use of the ‘Netbook’ term.”

Later, an Intel spokesman confirmed to eWEEK that the chip giant had settled its claim with Psion “amicably.” According to the spokesman, Intel considers netbook a generic term that can refer to any type of small, low-cost laptop, whether it uses an Intel Atom processor and chip set or another company’s chip technology.

In 2008, Psion filed legal action against Intel, claiming the company did not have the right to use the term netbook. While both companies claimed to have jointly ended the dispute, neither offered much detail about what the settlement entailed.

Netbooks, which are also referred to as mini-notebooks or low-cost laptops by other chip makers and some market research firms, remain one of the brighter spots in the PC industry, which has suffered due to the recession in the United States.

While once considered a laptop for a niche market, nearly all PC makers now make some type of netbook. Asus has had the most success with its Eee PC line, but Helwett-Packard, Acer, Dell, Lenovo and other all offer some type of mini-notebook or netbook.

Advanced Micro Devices, which is Intel’s main rival when it comes to PC chips, has steered away from netbooks, which is still a term closely associated with Intel and its Atom chip. Instead, AMD is looking to create new types of thin and light notebooks that use low-power chips but offer the same type of performance found in full-sized laptops.

Microsoft is another company that has shown interest in how netbooks will change computing in the coming years. Not only is Microsoft being challenged by Linux within the netbook market, but many PC makers are also reportedly tinkering with Google’s Android operating system.

In May, Microsoft announced that it has adjusted its Windows 7 Starter edition to allow users to run more applications, which should help Microsoft within the netbook market.