Netbook enthusiast web sites getting C & D using term “netbook”


This is very preliminary but we are hearing that some netbook enthusiast sites are getting “cease & desist” letters from a firm in the UK ordering the sites to stop using the term “netbook”.  The letters claim that the term netbook is trademarked by the firm that produced the Psion netBook in the early 2000’s.

We have not received one of these letters but have corresponded with a site owner who did receive one and they were ordered to remove the term “netbook” from content by March 2009 or face legal action.


Our research into the matter shows that the Psion Teklogix firm who produced the Psion PDA line years ago did in fact produce a Netbook and Netbook Pro device.  The Netbook device was a small laptop form that ran the firm’s EPOC operating system and was a cross between a PDA and a laptop.  The Netbook is amazingly similar to the netbook of today with the exception of the operating system which was quite advanced for that time.

The Netbook device was discontinued by Psion but it looks like they still make accessories including batteries for the Netbook.  You can find a review of the netBook on and the video below shows how it resembles modern netbooks.  We’ll provide updates on this development as they appear.



ok, how about “i.Net-Book” sounds kind catchy but I thing Apple would start sending out letters.



@hike — patent trolls want to make money of a patent. I doubt that Psion is trying to make money by licensing the name Netbook. Who’d pay — Intel?


It would seem that permitting the use of the work “netbook” for this long would void the validity of the trademark. The term, “netbook”, is already generic; “netbook” cannot corralled back to Psion. The word, “netbook”, has already entered the general vocabulary. Why, it even has a wikipedia entry–proof that “netbook” is now generic.

I worked for a company that had this problem. They started protecting their trademark names immediately. It was their quick action that kept there name from becoming generic. Xerox also had this problem.

Psion has waited too long to reclaim the name/word/trademark. They sound more like a patent troll than a technology company.


Trademarks have to be defended or they expire. The term “Netbook” was adopted by other companies and used as generic for several years. I believe this trademark is now unenforceable. Further, this this website is not using the term for any product or service that it offers, rather it is refers to products from other companies who have adopted the term “netbook”. The use on this page is therefore just a factual description and is not actionable.


The trademarked name Netbook has moved from a trademark to the vernacular due to Psion not defending the trademark over the last 3 years. Now the legal defense of trademark will not hold up. Sorry Psion but you lost trademark.


We’re eventually going to reach a day when every word, phrase or idea is trademarked or copyrighted so we won’t be able to thik, say or post anything without fear of being prosecuted by greedy attorneys represneting non-existent or defunct business’s.

netbook net-book NetBook NETBook netbook NET-Book etc..

so sue me. Ugh…that is so aggravating. Its indirect censorship at its best.


Mel Beckman

Calm down all you flamers. Netbook is doing nothing wrong. This is perfectly moral and legal behavior on their part. The invented the term Netbook and are entitled to keep it as a trademark as long as they want. They still use the term in commerce and thus they still hold legal ownership under U.S. and international trademark law. No different from Apple’s continued ownership of PowerBook.

It’s Psion’s property and if you’re griping about you’re simply being hypocritical, unless you are willing to give up your own intellectual property without a fight.

The right thing for all of us to do is to simply switch to another term. Netbook is inaccurate in any case. The salient feature of these devices is not their network connectivity — every notebook has that. It’s their miniature size. These devices are all about the dimensions of the defunct palmtop form factor (sold by IBM, Sony, Acer, etc). Those did _not_ have much in the way of network ability, so a natural and more accurate name for these new devices is netpalmtop.


If I ran a site about mini portable computers and had one of the CnD letters, I’d write a piece on my site explaining where the NetBook name came from, and how netbook is different.

But I’d also note how the Psion product was an abject failure in the market, so demonstrates how their products should probably be totally avoided.

Web 3.0 – harnessing the Streisand effect to hurt opposition (and make a killing off the adverts in the meantime).

David Cohen

A key facet of trademark law is the need for maintaining use through lawful trade activity, and to defend the trademar against misues. Psion has done neither of these things for a considerable amount of time – so I would see the C&D as legal hot air.

Psion also does not have the resources for an expensive court fight – they are effectively now a small niche provider.

It’s a load of flim flam…

James Kendrick

We have on record here many times where we decried the term “netbook” but it became a generic publicly used term anyway. I suspect this attempt is just testing the waters going after small sites before talking to Intel for using the term. It has no merit and will go away quickly I assume.


The following C&D letter was not sent to a blogger as a threat of legal action, but it was to prevent “genericide” of the trademark, and to potentially institute an trademark infringement action against Intel.

If the blogger chose to ignore the C&D, and continued to use the “netbook” term, there is nothing Psion could do about it legally.

All this letter serves as is huffing and puffing to reclaim and protect the trademark, which Psion has unfortunately not been very proactive about protecting.

Chris Bulow

Idiots – and there are richer targets to go after than bloggers if they want to waste their money on legal rottweilers, the UK’s PC Pro for example: who produced a whole review of “netbooks” without acknowledging any prior copyright…

sal cangeloso

Pretty interesting, I’m curious to see how far Psion and it’s legal team will go. Have any sites come forward and said they received the C&D? I mean, are they just trying to scare a few bloggers or is Intel going to have to step in and tell Psion what’s up ; )

btw- one of my favorite articles of all time.


Funny how life works — I’m reading this article, on a Dell ‘Netbook’ which is hooked up to a 3G network through a Nokia E71 — which runs Symbian, which is a direct descendant of EPOC OS.

The circle of tech!



@flatfeet — really has nothing to do with them being a British company, or British computing technology. This C&D approach is quite common in the US. And in fact, Psion Teklogix is headquartered in Canada these days. Not quite sure what their intentions are, since their Netbook/Netbook Pro line is discontinued. Doubtful that they’d plan a revival of that.

I wonder if they’re also going after Intel, the new owner of — they are, after all, saying that their Atom processor is for netbooks.

Oh yeah, and anyone thinking of writing about netpads, watch out…


Let’s all blame Intel, for its my understanding it was they who first started using the term to describe these devices.

My personal preference for these products has always been ‘subnotebook’ – this based on experience with my first portable computer, the Compaq Contura Aero. This had no CD/DVD drive, a 10″ screen and (even for the era) a small HDD. And yes, using dialup, one had access to the net. Compaq’s own advertising and Press Releases of the the time described the Aero as a ‘subnotebook’.

So let’s send all the lawsuits on ‘netbook’ use to Intel and slip back into calling them what they are.


Ah… Psion – British computing technology at its best. Thought they went the way of Commodore, Sinclair, etc.


sooo…these people WANT a bad reputation? are their marketing department just that retarded? such companies should be forced shut, dont need such idiocy in the world


Unfortunately for the Psion people they are facing a fait accompli now, the netbook term is already widely used to describe the small new laptop variants, just like we use PC to describe computers. They are way too late trying to defend their trademark now.

Mel Buckpitt

I don’t understand this. If the netbook is a trademark and a site used it in its domain name, this action sort of makes sense but to get C&Ds for writing about products that other people call netbooks is lawyer craziness.


This doesn’t make any sense.

Why go after a bunch of bloggers? It’s not like they’re profiteering off the name.

Intel coined the, modern, term. If you’re going to go after anyone, go after them.


Funny, I was reading about netbooks yesterday and recalling the Psion Netbook and how it had a great form factor (the ill-fated Palm Foleo also reminded me of the Psion Netbook), but probably the wrong OS for the time. The Psion PDAs (like the Psion 3 or 5) were great devices with nice keyboards and possibly were the first real PDAs. And isn’t the Symbian OS based on Psion’s EPOC?

Comments are closed.