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Intel responds to Psion countersuit

Liar, liar, portable handheld pants on fire?

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Intel has formally responded to Psion's countersuit, itself launched in response to a lawsuit from the chip giant in a bid to have Psion's Netbook trademark revoked.

Central to Psion's counterclaim is that it continues to sell its Netbook Pro handheld computer and thus its trademark, acquired in the late 1990s, is still valid. Psion stopped manufacturing the machine in 2003, but claims it's been nonetheless selling the thing ever since, racking up revenues of $13,650 this year, down from a peak of just over $2m in 2006.

Intel's reponse, filed with the US District Court of Northern California last week, admits it has no evidence to dispute Psion's numbers, but that it "denies that Psion offered any Netbook laptop in the United States after 2003, as confirmed by Psion's website".

To this day, Psion's US website does indeed list the Netbook Pro among the company's "Discontinued Products".

Intel stresses that point a number of times and the implication is clear: in the US, Psion did not sell the Netbook after 2003, and so any claim that its trademark is valid because it did and does is - as we say in the legal trade - bollocks.

Intel goes on to state that is has, as Psion alleged, used the term 'netbook' generically, but that it does treat it as a trademark. Curiously, it doesn't admit - or deny - that it attempted to trademark the term 'netbook', partly because Psion didn't claim that it had.

However, the chip giant maintains that when it began using the term, it had no knowledge that Psion has any possible claim on the word - contrary to Psion's allegation that it did. The point of the formal 'adoption' of the term 'netbook' comes on 24 September 2008, when Intel registered the domain name netbook.com.

Curiously, while Psion made the quite reasonable claim - given the nature of Intel's business - that netbook.com was acquired to "promote computer chips for use in laptop computers", Intel denies this "allegation".

Intel promoting the sale of chips? Absurd...

Psion may respond to all this, but the case will continue to hinge on whether Psion has the right to retain a trademark arising from a product it no longer produces and, if Intel is correct, doesn't sell in the US.

Intel says it didn't check to see whether the word 'netbook' had been trademarked - its stated lack of knowledge that Psion owned such a trademark is tacit admission that it didn't look before leaping - but that doesn't detract from the question of the validity of Psion's trademark, though we're sure Psion will argue otherwise. ®

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