Monday, February 23, 2009

Is that a netBook?

Computer giants Dell have applied for the revocation of the 'netbook' trade mark on the grounds that it is a generic term for small, cheap computers that are designed for wireless communication and access to the internet.

'Netbook' is owned by Dell's rival Psion, they have registered the mark in both the US and also as a CTM. It is believed that Psion stopped using the mark in the US in 2004 and in Europe around the same time, however recently they have made attempts to assert their rights by sending various cease and desist letters.

Dell are arguing that "Psion has abandoned the 'Netbook' mark,". Under trade mark law if a brand name becomes so synonymous as to be merely a generic name for a kind of product then it is possible to file for it's revocation.

By way of example consider 'escalator' originally this was a registered trade mark but was revoked on the grounds that it was merely a generic name for a kind of product.

This case shows the importance of protecting your trade marks through constant vigilance, consider for example 'Tannoy' or 'Hoover' both of which it could be argued are now generic names but both brand owners have strictly regulated their use so as to ensure that they are considered as trade marks.

Further discussion can be found on The IPKat and Out-law.

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