Acorn brand name in PC laptop launchBy Chris Williams. Published: 5th May 2006, 18:18:05 | Permalink | Printable
[Updated] The rabbit hole runs deepThe Acorn brand will be used to launch a range of PC laptops at a computer show next week.
The lack of connection shown between the new company behind the apparent revival and the Acorn of old is unclear, provoking a furious reaction from a number of RISC OS users. Acorn Computers Ltd, which was incorporated on January 28 this year, will be attending the CTS 2006 event at the NEC in Birmingham while promoting a "new range of Acorn Notebooks". The business is hoping to find a number of reseller partners at the event, and will use Windows XP and Sun's Star Office on its computers. It's understood the company is keeping quiet on the details of its launch until May 10 to coincide with it appearing at the show.
An announcement sent to news outlets today read: "As one of the UK’s most recognisable and fondly remembered IT brands, Acorn Computers Limited has re-launched in 2006 as a Notebook PC vendor, supplying to home users, academic establishments, and businesses of all sizes.
"The Acorn Computers web site is due to launch imminently at www.acorncomputer.co.uk where more information can be found. A further programme of trade and consumer marketing is currently in planning and production."
While describing the Acorn brand as "iconic", the company's use of the familiar green nut logo - albeit with a more modern twist - has infuriated some RISC OS users. A few of them, one being platform advocate Paul Vigay, have reportedly contacted Companies House and the CTS 2006 organisers to lodge complaints against Acorn Computers Ltd, alleging that it is misusing the Acorn brand. Although Acorn Computers Ltd said "Acorn and the Acorn logo are registered trademarks of Acorn Computers Limited", the UK Patent Office's records from this week show that the revelant name and logo are still actively owned by Element-14. The Acorn trademark is not due to expire until 2009. Element-14 was born from the break up of Acorn and later, snapped up by Broadcom.
Acorn Computers spokeswoman Vivienne Pearsons said: "I'm in the process of preparing further statements which I'll get over to you at the end of next week once the exhibition has finished."
The company was unavailable for further comment.
Update at 20:29 8/5/2006
A lot of people have been doing some rummaging on the mysterious new Acorn Computers company. It has one director, Shahid Sultan, 32, and a company secretary Abid Sultan, 31, both living in Nottingham. Last year Shahid put in an appearance at the CTS 2005 event, and represented Global Comm, a commodity technology dealer. Global Comm was incorporated after the show on August 26, again in Nottingham. Its directors are Shahid and Abid.
A Drobe news sleuth said: "Acorn Computers Ltd have licensed the right to use the word 'Acorn' in trademark class 9 (which includes computers and similar work) and 41 (mainly training material) from Aristide & Co Antiquaire De Marques, 57 Rue D'Amsterdam, 75008 Paris, France. Interesting to note that they also own 'Molyneux', 'Schiaparelli' and 'Vectrex', amongst others."
According to sources, Global Comm are related to laptop reseller Intellinote - the Intellinote registered trademark belongs to scanner manufacturer Mustek under class 9. This company claims to be selling the same type of screens as the new Acorn ones, plus its online ordering system is non-encrypted while the terms and conditions link leads to a dead page. There are also close ties with other websites including AVGEAR.
Others have pointed out that this is not the first time the Acorn brand has been sought after; Quantum Microponents were denied the trademark last year for instance. VNU Exhibitions, the organisers of the CTS 2006 event, have checked with their lawyers and reportedly confirmed that Acorn Computers acquired the trademark from a French company, who themselves grabbed in 2003.
A VNU spokesperson said: "Mr Sultan is perfectly within his rights to sell products under the name Acorn. However, he cannot be seen to be affiliated with the Acorn products and as such should (and is) producing computer products that operate in an entirely different way.
"Essentially it's quite a complicated situation in that several companies are licensed to manufacture Acorn Computers descended from the computers produced in the 80s and 90s. However the Acorn exhibiting is allowed to use the name but can only produce computers and other products which are different from the traditional Acorn model."
Ex-Acorn engineer Ben Avison also corrected us on which Element-14 is involved in the original Acorn trademark.
He told us: "Regarding the assertion that the Acorn trademark is owned by the Element 14 that was bought by Broadcom: I think you've fallen into a common trap which is to confuse Element 14 Ltd (the renamed Acorn Computers Ltd, to which the Patent Office refers) and Element 14 Inc (now Broadcom UK Ltd) - they are separate legal entities. Element 14 Ltd's assets were bought by MSDW and relatively few of them were transferred to Element 14 Inc. The last rumour I heard was that the Acorn trademark reverted to Hermann Hauser."
The ex-Pace and ex-Tematic employee added: "I'm not sure where this leaves Castle's rights to use the Acorn logo on A7000+'s - I have never seen that particular agreement. Presumably it continues, but that could be confusing for customers."
The Register takes a bite
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