“Save the Netbooks” campaign launched to fight impending trademark threat

The “Save the Netbooks” campaign is fighting the impending trademark threat
from Psion Teklogix, who have given until the end of March 2009 to cease using
the term, citing trademarks relating to a line of products discontinued over 5
years ago.

SYDNEY, Australia - February 17, 2009 AEST - The "Save the netbooks" campaign
was launched today to protect the next generation of personal computers from
the impending threat of trademark action starting at the end of March 2009.

In a written statement released last month, Canadian firm Psion Teklogix, Inc.
confirmed news reports that they had contacted "literally hundreds of entities
around the world" to "affirm" international trademarks. The applications filed
between 1996 and 1998 related to their Psion netBook™ product line that was
launched in 1999 and subsequently discontinued over five years ago in 2003
(except for providing accessories, maintenance and support to existing users).

"We have been unable to find any connection whatsoever between Psion Teklogix
and the recent explosive organic growth of the term 'netbook', nor any
evidence that steps were taken to protect the trademark prior to the batch of
letters sent on the eve of christmas last year", said Sam Johnston, Strategic
Consultant. "We also believe that the term is a generic description for a
class of products rather than the specific meaning they intended, and that it
should not have been afforded trademark protection in the first place as it
is merely descriptive. Furthermore, at $1,299 the device would not even have
met one of the key criteria for netbooks were it available today: price."

"A 'netbook' is a class of laptop computers designed for Internet access.
Often confused with the 'subnotebook' or 'ultraportable' segment, the recent
availability of full size netbooks dispels the myth that size matters", said
Johnston, adding that "Thanks to rapid evolution such as the introduction of
ARM chips and custom Linux distributions, as well as support from increasingly
robust cloud computing offerings like Google Apps, netbooks are well placed
to become the de facto standard portable computer for the foreseeable future".

According to Business Week they tend to be greener too "thanks to lower power
demands, fewer toxic components, and a resource-efficient approach to
computing". Their task-specific manufacturing allows them to be far cheaper
than their predecessors and for enterprise users the total cost of ownership
(TCO) is greatly reduced. As they have few or no moving parts and high
efficiency processors they run cool, quiet and for up to a day at a time on a
single charge, and they do not need to be upgraded or replaced for 5-10 years.

The term "netbook" is a portmanteau of "Internet" and "notebook", in the same
way that "netizen" is a blend of "Internet" and "citizen". It started gaining
in popularity following the January 2005 launch of the One Laptop Per Child
(OLPC) project and rapidly entered the public lexicon with the 2007 launch of
the Asus eeePC. During 2008 the "netbook craze" really took off with most
computer manufacturers launching a "netbook" class device, often under the
"netbook" moniker. Today netbooks are manufactured by Acer, Asus, Dell,
Fujitsu, Gigabyte, HP, Lenovo, Medion, MSI, OLPC, Packard Bell, Toshiba,
Samsung, Sony and many others (but notably not Psion Teklogix) and you can buy
them from hundreds of thousands of distributors and retailers around the globe.

ABI Research predicts that 35 million netbooks will be sold this year, which is
triple the 10 million sold in 2008 and almost two orders of magnitude more than
were sold in 2007. They estimate this will rise to 139 million in 2013. At a
conservative $200 per device this could be a $30bn industry within 5 years.

"Typically priced well below $500, netbooks are a breath of fresh air in a
tough economic climate and they have extended personal computers to people
who have never been able to afford them", said Johnston. "They are also a key
component of the cloud computing ecosystem and a compelling cost reduction
strategy for enterprises. We welcome Psion Teklogix to the marketplace with a
netbook class device, but we note that they have not yet ruled out litigation
and urge them to do so promptly in order to maintain a level playing field and
ensure the widest possible consumer choice."

In the 8 January statement prepared by Marcus Casadei, Marketing Creative Lead,
Teklogix maintain that their trademarks are enforceable despite conceding
that "in recent years the extent of use has been somewhat reduced". They have
ruled out selling or licensing the mark, wishing "to be free to use it on
[their] future products" at the exclusion of all others, and are currently
calling for 'transition to a different descriptive term over a 3 month term'.
They note that the term "could become [generic] soon if retailers (and others)
persist in calling these devices 'netbooks'" and plead for "responsible
retailers and manufacturers" to "understand that it is wrong for them to
contribute to, and be complicit in, making a registered trademark generic",
asking them "as a matter of principle" to "respect [their] trademarks".

We contend that trademarks are intended to protect established brands, that it
is wrong to abuse them to hijack any term from the public lexicon, and that it
takes considerable chutzpah to do so after waiting "to be sure that there was a
real danger" while watching a multi-billion dollar netbook industry take shape.

We call for manufacturers and retailers to to stand your ground by continuing
to make new and innovative products available under the "netbook" moniker.

We call for Google to reverse the unfair ban on AdWords ads using the term
"netbook" on the basis that it is both generic and descriptive.

We call for journalists and bloggers to take advantage of the offered amnesty
(as we have) by rejecting the proposed "ultra-portable" alternative and
continuing to use "netbook" generically when referring to "Internet notebooks".

We call for consumers to vote with your feet should the community granted
privilege of a monopoly be abused, by joining in a boycott of the offending
products, a negative review protest and other coordinated activities.

Most of all we call for Psion Teklogix to "Save the Netbooks" themselves by
abandoning the offending trademarks within their self-assigned six week
deadline and committing instead to play fair under the "Psion netBook" banner.

For more information visit

About Australian Online Solutions Pty Ltd

Australian Online Solutions is a boutique consultancy that specialises in
cloud computing solutions for large enterprise, government and education
clients throughout Australia, Europe and the USA. Despite having prototyped
a $199.00 Linux PC around the turn of the millennium, it is a services
company that has no intention of entering the netbook marketplace.

Australian Online Solutions was successful in August 2008 in protecting the
term "cloud computing" from a similar trademark attempt by Dell Computer,
whereby the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) had issued a
"Notice of Allowance". This was cancelled within days of company founder,
Sam Johnston, revealing the discovery on a cloud computing mailing list.

Similarly, an October 2008 attempt by Arastra, Inc. to register
"Cloud Networking" was foiled after the phrase was defined in Wikipedia and
used extensively in a generic context. Arastra abandoned their application
this month after receiving a refusal notice from the USPTO in January.

Australian Online Solutions has also just launched a Google App Engine
application called 'indexifier' which is working on gradually surfacing
these "submarine trademarks" over the course of the coming year. To help out
link to and for the source visit Google Code.

Sam Johnston, Founder and CTO, is a prominent blogger on cloud computing,
security and open source topics. He maintains a blog at

Press Contact:
Sam Johnston
Australian Online Solutions Pty Ltd
+61 2 8898 9090


By Sam Johnston

Sam Johnston CMgr FCMI/FIML GAICD MACS Snr CP is an Australian technology executive and serial entrepreneur with over 20 years experience founding and advising startups, and in leadership roles at top global technology companies including Google, Equinix, Citrix, and DXC Technology.

Sam is currently chief entrepreneur officer (CEO) at Acumino, a Singapore venture studio focusing on emerging technologies and disruptive innovation. He is working with other founders to create the businesses of tomorrow by applying his research into emerging technologies including drones, robotics & humanoids, 3D printing, computer vision & voice, augmented & virtual reality, artificial intelligence & machine learning, blockchain, chatbots, and quantum computing.

Sam has a bachelor of computer science degree from the University of New South Wales, and is based in Singapore, having worked in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the USA.