Isys sues Google over ChromiumPC trademark claim

Isys Technology, owner of modular PC specialist Xi3, has launched a legal campaign against Google to allow it to use the ChromiumPC trademark for its range of modular computer systems.

You may remember Xi3 - a subsidiary of intellectual property holding company Isys - from the Xi3 ChromiumPC, a Chrome OS-based modular PC concept which we wrote about a short while ago. While indications at that time were that Xi3 and Google enjoyed a fruitful working relationship, it appears that nothing could be further from the truth.

In a statement issued today, Isys has declared that Google has made moves to block its ChromiumPC trademark. According to the legal filing, Google filed documents delaying Isys's trademark application for ChromiumPC in order to release its own Chromebook devices first. This move has allowed Google to request that Isys ceases and desists the use of the ChromiumPC trademark.

To get its own back, Isys has fired back at the advertising giant with a suit of its own, claiming that Google is releasing products "bearing a mark confusingly similar to ChromiumPC, namely, Chromebook and/or Chromebox for PC hardware products."

In doing so, Isys is asking the courts to render Google's trademarks invalid and allow the company to register its own ChromiumPC trademarks, along with a request that Google not be allowed to market its goods until it changes their names. Also named in the suit are hardware partners Acer and Samsung along with retail partners Amazon and Best Buy.

"We do not begrudge anyone the ability to create new products and take them to market, unless they infringe on our intellectual property," claimed Isys president Jason Sullivan. "In spite of our sincere efforts to resolve this matter amicably with Google, we've clearly reached an impasse. So for now, we feel we have no other choice than to request the assistance of the court to protect us in this very critical matter regarding ChromiumPC."

This isn't the first time Google has got into such trouble with its Chrome OS-based devices. In Feburary 2010 the company filed a trademark application for computing devices under the name Speedbook, but found itself blocked by an existing use. This block led to the decision to rebrand the products as Chromebook.

"In November 2010 and January 2011, Google knew that Isys received significant awards through its Xi3 subsidiary at national computer tradeshows for new computer hardware being readied for market launch," the filing asserts. "Google has now opposed Isys's application for ChromiumPC, relying upon the name of open source software called Chromium OS by Google and by many, independent open-source developers over which and over whom Google exercises no material control."

It's a contentious issue: while Google started the Chromium project, which serves an an open-source basis for the Chrome browser and Chrome OS platform, Isys is right in saying that the project is not technically speaking under Google control. Whether the courts will find that enough of a reason to grant Isys's trademark request and invalidate Google's, however, remains to be seen.

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