Research in Motion (RIM) has failed to register the trademark for its new PlayBook tablet in the UK, after a search on the Intellectual Property Organisation's web site revealed that the term is already taken.
The trademark currently belongs to publishing magnate Felix Dennis, owner of Dennis Publishing, who registered it in 2006 through legal firm Boult Wade Tennant for a wide range of potential services. The name is still valid across 27 EU member states.
Mark Owen, an intellectual property lawyer at Harbottle & Lewis, believes it likely that RIM will have been aware that the trademark was owned by someone else, but was confident of resolving the issue.
"RIM could have already reached a deal with Felix Dennis or be in discussions to resolve the issue, but the fact that [the trademark] is already taken underlines the constant risk firms face when they introduce products using variations of common words," he said.
"The fact that RIM's PlayBook has a capital 'B' in the name makes no difference, as the trademark that exists is for the entire word. So anything that is similar or identical could be classed as an infringement."
V3.co.uk contacted RIM for comment, but had not received a reply at the time of publication.
The discovery follows a warning by legal experts last week that Google could take legal action against the Project Canvas consortium over its newly branded YouView service owing to the name's similarity to YouTube.
Other major mobile firms have faced similar problems in the past. Cisco threatened to sue Apple over the term 'iPhone' when the device was first announced in 2007.
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