Popular technology gizmo is a trademarked term.
Savvy domainers jump on trends and register (or buy) popular new terms before they go mainstream. One term that has jumped into tech talk in earnest over the past year is “netbook”. Netbooks are essentially small and cheap laptops that travel well.
This category of laptops is all the rage, and major manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon advertising their latest netbooks.
Above: Google Trends for “netbook” searches.
There’s just one problem. It seems that the term netbook isn’t really new at all. A company called Psion has a trademark the term for computers (it previously offered a product called Netbook). As it should, Psion is trying to protect the trademark and is calling on people to stop using the term. If the term is no longer associated with Psion’s trademark then it will be diluted. It’s sort of like how Google’s lawyers don’t want people to use the term Google as a verb. If people say “I googled it” and just mean “I searched it”, it loses its protection. (See also Scotch Tape).
Now Google is weighing in on the term. Psion asked Google to not allow companies to use the term netbook in their Adwords ads. After investigating, Google decided to comply. (Link removed because no longer active.)
There have been a handful of domain sales including the word netbook, including netbooks.de ($3,222), netbooksinc.com ($5,556), and, just this month, ThinkNetbook.com $75.
I suspect Intel will buy rights to the trademark and let the industry use the term, but that hasn’t happened yet. My advice would be to tread carefully when registering any domain names with “netbook” in them, even if you don’t mean to violate the trademark.