Psion: We're still selling the Netbook Pro

The netbook trademark saga continues, and anybody who hoped Psion would roll over and play dead once Dell and Intel stepped in, think again.  Psion have  responded to claims that they "abandoned" the netbook trademark and are no longer selling the Psion Netbook Pro; in fact, the company claims, sales of the Netbook Pro continue, with millions of dollars worth of hardware going to US vertical markets.

Full Psion response after the cut

According to Psion, while manufacturing of the Netbook Pro ended, sales did not, and they're still shipping existing stock to clients in supply chain logistics, which they say is their most typical customer.  Production ceased, they claim, not from lack of demand but because a power management controller chip went out of production and a replacement couldn't be found; it was that specialized controller that allowed the Netbook Pro to run for 8hrs straight or last 10 days in standby.

If Psion can evidence all this – and they say they have the confidential invoices to prove it – then it adds a whole new dimension to the legal case.  They still have to answer claims that "netbook" has become a generic term, but the simple fight Dell and Intel thought they might have doesn't look to be panning out.  As for us consumers, meanwhile, we'd quite like an 8hr/10 day netbook please Psion; that would be a great way to show everyone exactly how much of a netbook player you are.

In 2006, Psion in fact had multi-million dollar sales of the Netbook ® Pro computer in both the US and the EU. The bulk of sales were (and continue to be) in the highly specialised supply chain logistics area – perhaps not the easiest thing for third parties to get visibility on, but nevertheless, real sales to real customers in the US. And those real sales to real customers in the US continue even to this day. Attached is a typical Netbook ® Pro sales flyer (not included here), so you can see that Psion really were (and are) branding this computer as a 'Netbook'.

I can quite understand why people might have assumed that sales ceased a while back – it's not as if the product has been in Best Buy. But those people simply had no access to Psion's confidential sales information.

So the facts are that, although manufacture has been discontinued, sales in the US and EU have not. And its continuing sales that are important to preventing a trademark from becoming abandoned. We'll of course be setting the record straight in our court filings.

Incidentally, manufacture of the Netbook ® Pro had to cease prematurely not because of any lack of demand. It was because supplies of a replacement for a specialised chip controller could not be found – the Netbook ® Pro had very sophisticated power management, given it 8 hours of runtime and 10 days in standby, as well as instant-on (still an amazing feature in a laptop). Because of the sophisticated nature of the Netbook ® Pro design, a simple replacement controller could not be found and that meant that manufacture had to cease once those supplies of controllers were exhausted; it was a great pity.

I hope this clarifies the situation; Psion continues to sell the Netbook ® Pro computer. It's got all the invoices to prove multi-million dollar sales in the US in 2006, and sales that continue even to this day. There's been no abandonment of the trademark.

Just because we're not selling tens of thousands through Best Buy doesn't mean we're not entitled to our trademark.