German court orders Lenovo to stop using 'smartbook'

Smartbook AG's efforts to protect its trademark continue

A German court on Thursday issued a restraining order at the behest of Smartbook AG to stop Lenovo from using the "smartbook" trademark to describe low-cost laptops in Germany.

Smartbooks are lightweight mini-laptops designed for those who want Internet access without full PC functionality. Lenovo in January announced a device called Skylight that it has described as a "smartbook." The device has a diagonal screen size of 10 inches, is based on the Linux OS and runs on a processor licensed from Arm.

Lenovo is liable for a penalty of up to €250,000 (US$344,000) for every time the term is used, Smartbook AG said Thursday, citing the order from the District Court in Cologne.

"Without approval by Smartbook AG, Lenovo must refrain from using the character sequence 'Smartbook' in all writing systems in association with mobile computers -- such as laptops (notebooks) -- as part of commercial correspondence in the Federal Republic of Germany," Smartbook said in a statement.

A Lenovo spokeswoman acknowledged the court order, but declined to immediately comment on the topic.

Smartbook AG, which is based in Cologne, Germany, issued a series of warnings and filed lawsuits last year to protect its trademark, which relates to mobile portable computers the company has sold since 2006. The company in August filed a suit against Qualcomm in the District Court in Cologne aimed at stopping Qualcomm from using the word "smartbook" to describe mobile computers. A lawyer representing Smartbook AG in August also sent a note to the blog Netbooknews.de asking the site to delete the term "smartbook."

Smartbook AG's actions follow a similar registration tiff involving usage of the term "netbook", which are low-cost, lightweight laptops. Psion filed lawsuits against companies including Intel and Dell accusing them of violating Psion's "netbook" trademark, but the cases were ultimately settled. Psion also withdrew its netbook trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after the settlements.

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