updated 09:50 pm EST, Fri February 18, 2011
Qualcomm wins case, can keep smartbook title
Qualcomm scored an important if now largely symbolic victory in its dispute with Smartbook AG over the "smartbook" label. Germany's Patent and Trademark Office ruled that Smartbook AG's two trademarks on the formal name couldn't be applied to the generic term, which Qualcomm applied to any small, ultralight notebook using a cellphone-class processor and OS. Qualcomm can now use the term freely as long as it isn't in the formal context.
Smartbook AG had stirred questions as to its real purposes. At one point, it signalled intentions to use any win to help it sell name rights to other companies rather than simply to defend its own products. The originator of the suit, former CEO Dirk Pick, now works for the marketing agency Galahad and now helps pitch Tunebug.
The win has mostly come too late for smartbooks to have an impact. Qualcomm itself has acknowledged that the iPad killed smartbooks by embracing the same basic concepts of a computer-sized, long-lived device but in a more portable form than a notebook. A handful of smartbooks have shipped, such as the HP Compaq Airlife and the Toshiba AC100, but most every company entering the field has chosen to make a tablet in addition to or instead of a smartbook.
Some, such as Lenovo's Skylight (pictured), have been caught in limbo or scrapped as the case for a release has become less certain. [via Netbook News]