This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication - Western Union memo, 1876
TABLET MAKER Motorola is facing a lawsuit over the use of the Xoom trademark.
Electronic money transfer outfit Xoom Corporation is asking for an injunction to prevent Motorola from using the word Xoom to market its tablet, claiming that infringes on its trademark. We found that the firm had been issuing press releases under the Xoom name since October 2002.
Motorola worked hard to build up interest in its Xoom tablet, making sure it was the only tablet at CES running Android 3.0 Honeycomb and that it was the featured device at Google's Android 3.0 unveiling earlier this month. Motorola also scattered Xoom tablets all over Mobile World Congress, allowing conference goers to play around with what is generally regarded as the first real competitor to Apple's Ipad.
Given that Motorola put so much work into building up hype around the Xoom, it seems surprising that it didn't think of working something out with Xoom Corporation. The firm owns the xoom.com domain name so it's not exactly hiding in the shadows, and while its unlikely that Motorola will have to reprint all its advertising due to a name change just yet, it could disrupt a major product launch for the company.
Clearly Xoom Corporation has been using the Xoom mark for many years prior to Motorola's choice of the name for it tablet. The question for the court, if the dispute goes that far, will be whether Motorola's Xoom tablet is liable to cause confusion with what Xoom Corporation does.
On the face of it, Motorola's Xoom is a tablet and Xoom Corporation is a money transfer service, and perhaps not one that is particularly well known at that. So common sense might say this is just another nuisance lawsuit. However, as is best practice in these matters, Xoom Corporation has hooked up with what looks to be a pretty big and expensive law firm to take on Motorola, so it looks like it means business.
The question is whether Motorola can get away by just paying off Xoom or whether the relatively small outfit wants to slug it out against one of the biggest names in the mobile hardware business to protect what it believes is its trademark.
With Xoom Corporation hiring some expensive lawyers the chances seem good that Motorola will have to shell out quite a bit either for its own defence or in payments to Xoom Corporation. µ
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