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Intel Europe has fired off a legal nastygram to a UK online photo processing service for using the word Inside in its business name.

It wants FotoInside to change its name, as "The 'INSIDE' format ... was coined by our client in 1991 when it began using the INTEL INSIDE mark", says Intel Europe’s law firm, Howrey Simon Arnold & White, in a letter to FotoInside Ltd.

FotoInside, set up in September 2003, has backed down immediately and is changing its name, which is perhaps wise as it would suffer if Intel were to pursue the matter through the courts.

But Intel's goons have given the Cambridge-based firm a lovely publicity hook. Cue MD Klaas Brumann, who proclaims: “Our photo processing company has never had any intention or wish to be associated to an American duopolist. It had never passed our mind that anybody seeing the FotoInside logo, advertising or website would associate it with the American chip maker.”

FotoInside is now moving in on continental Europe, where, it says, “inside” is not part of the local language[s]. But conflicting legal systems in different countries are a problem.

The European Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market centralises the registration process for trademarks and designs, but individual countries provide protection, the company notes: "The differences in law and interpretation can have major implications for any British business trying to establish its name in other EU member countries."

Now for a longer quote from Brumann: "It has been difficult to assess the potential legal implications of Intel’s claim across the 21 jurisdictions we are targeting. We found that for example French courts seem to grant a higher level of protection on the use of common English words than on French words. Therefore we preferred to change our name to FotoInsight Limited with immediate effect".

Under the circumstances, it seems churlish to deny Brumann a little self-puffery. He says: “This change guarantees our customers in the UK and 20 European countries continuity in the high levels of quality across the largest range of photo print and photo gift products.” ®

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