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Acorn brand name in PC laptop launch

By Chris Williams. Published: 5th May 2006, 18:18:05 | Permalink | Printable

[Updated] The rabbit hole runs deep

Acorn nut logoThe 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."


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And Castle refused to re-use the Acorn brand. This makes me sick!

On the other hand if the Acorn name is still respected and fluorishes then maybe there IS hope for RISC OS and a re-unification with the Acorn brand.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 5/5/06 7:35PM
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I have no reason to suppose that Castle ever had the Acorn brand to use beyond the Acorn designed machines. Of course it's important to consider the legal (often apparently very silly) matters concerning company names, trade marks, &c and not confuse them with the warm feeling that you, me, and lots of others might have about Acorn as a concept. We've long argued about the problems of the Acorn 'brand' and not made proper use of it. It is a brilliant and easily recognised brand and it is wrong (note I'm not identifying 'wrong' as legal, moral, or otherwise) for a PC seller to profit from that brand by stirring up those warm feelings that rightfully refer to either those responsible for the original designs or those developing those designs further.

But don't identify this 'wrong' with a legal stick that can be used to beat someone.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 5/5/06 8:07PM
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Use the link at the top of the article, to go to the computer show site.

Then use the link there to go to the Acorn site.

The link has http\\ stated twice in it, so is the resulting displayed web page due to hacking, or deliberate.

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 5/5/06 8:07PM
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Can anyone enlighten me as to why I have been moderated down?

The article is about the Acorn brand being used by a company pushing Windows computers.

I was wondering whether the resulting web site was showing who might be behind the new company.

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 5/5/06 8:19PM
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If this seemingly unrelated company really is using Acorn's good name intentionally in this way, I hope Paul's contact with Companies House throws up some dirt, as Acorn is very much a part of RISC OS' history whether we like it or not. People still fondly remember RISC OS as "that quirky system that ran on Acorns", but if the 'new' Acorn becomes a dubious (in the way it was set up) PC box-shifter, all credibility will be lost. It'd be like Watford Electronics all over again...

ajb: It's a simple typo. There is no resulting dodgy website displayed, just a broken link from the exhibitor's page. Perhaps your web browser defaults to searching the web for near matches in the case of a page-not-found error and this is what you saw.

 is a RISC OS Usertamias on 5/5/06 8:32PM
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whois acorncomputer.co.uk

Registrant type: UK Individual

Registrant's address: The registrant is a non-trading individual who has opted to have their address omitted from the WHOIS service.

Certainly looks fishy. Especially with a completely content-free site.

 is a RISC OS Userrpozz on 5/5/06 8:56PM
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Unfortunately, over the years, well known British brand names in consumer electronics have been bought and used by companies who originate elsewhere. Decca, Bush, Leak & Roberts are ones that immediately spring to mind. The motor industry has a similar situation, (Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls Royce) but at least the products are usually still made in the UK. So, Acorn Computers is not the first, nor will it be the last, to turn up as something completely different.

 is a RISC OS Usercharles on 5/5/06 9:26PM
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When I commented earlier, it was from my work computer.

I tried at least 5 times and each time it resulted with Microsoft's web site being displayed.

One of my brothers telephoned me, as I was returning home, to say they had seen my comments. I had him check on his computer, but he ended up on the W3C web site.

Since getting home I have tried on my WinPC and Iyonix, with Firefox, and only got the W3C web site.

Oregano2 on the Iyonix only displays an error page.

Why would my networked work computer using Firefox, routed through an Exchange server, repeatedly show Microsoft's web site?

I cannot see why their web site could be a "near match".

I imagine there is a simple reason.

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 5/5/06 9:48PM
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Trademarks have to be registered for each "class" of business you want to protect. The Element 14 ownership of the word "Acorn" seems merely to be a trademark over printed publications, not over computers. But it does have a pretty comprehensive trademark of the nut part of the Acorn logo.

 is a RISC OS Useralexsingleton on 5/5/06 9:50PM
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I understand Charleses point, but unlike Decca, Bush and the rest, Acorn had a unique product namely Riscos. It would be like having one Purcho and every other car make being just a Ford badged car.

 is a RISC OS Userdkb on 5/5/06 9:58PM
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jc: "no reason to suppose that Castle ever had the Acorn brand to use" Castle bought everything lock stock and barrel Jack say castle will sue if there is money to win Sue!

 is a RISC OS Userbillball on 5/5/06 10:01PM
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"( note I'm not identifying 'wrong' as legal, moral, or otherwise ) for a PC seller to profit from that brand by stirring up those warm feelings that rightfully refer to either those responsible for the original designs or those developing those designs further. "

Then it is a moral reference and nothing wrong for describing it as such.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 5/5/06 11:38PM
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In the unlikely event that these machines are put together in the UK, as opposed to shipped in from the Far East, this opens up interesting possibilities. The big stumbling block for the production of a native RISC OS laptop was, as I understand it, due to he small size of the market, nobody could guarentee a supply of laptop cases. Perhaps this new Acorn could be persuaded that there is a market for Acorn RISC OS laptops; or at least sell a small number of cases to someone like Castle, so that they could produce Iyonix laptops.

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 5/5/06 11:44PM
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billball: "Castle bought everything lock stock and barrel". So when I'm told that 'Shahid Sultan' is the Operations Director of Acorn Computers Ltd - that's simply Jack Lillingstone's nom de directeur? :-)

At least that means it's in good hands ...

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 5/5/06 11:46PM
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JWCR - yes, there are always possibilities.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 6/5/06 12:01AM
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charles: As goes Roberts Radio, they were bought as a going concern by Glen Dimplex, an Irish firm, and are still running as they were - far from a brand resurrection. I think they're still made in the UK at that, but at worst they're being made in Dunleer, which is about 20 miles from the UK ;)

 is a RISC OS UserMYOB on 6/5/06 12:59AM
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The Acorn Computers Ltd (2006 version) have taken more from Bill Gates than his operating system. They have clearly found a positive PR spot to press. I've so far found a number of (positive) responses to the PR as OT discussions in none-computing news groups. Please, if anyone finds similar, don't respond as a rant but make the positive comment that RISC OS *is* alive and well - even if you have to list a number of companies that produce modern RISC OS computers based on the real Acorn's designs.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 6/5/06 8:35AM
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Maby they there going to develop Winxp laptops for about a year to get back smoothly into the computer market, then maby just maby buy the rights to develop RISC OS then redesign itm get some software developers to write the vital applications missing from RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 6/5/06 9:49AM
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MikeCarter: Sarcasm is all well and good but some people might actually believe you. ;-( Of course I presume you haven't checked the company personnel and found a dozen or more RISC OS capable hardware/software developers - rather than the one or two salesmen that all the rest of us seem to be expecting ...

BTW "Maybe" please!

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 6/5/06 10:16AM
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Putting aside the legalities for a moment. Maybe this company has effectively shot itself in both feet. If "Joe Public" knows anything about Acorn, it will be as a company associated with education sometime in the past. If that's not too clear then try to imagine a business/corporate user buying harware from RM.

 is a RISC OS Usercardav on 6/5/06 11:07AM
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The appearance of this website is intriging and is causing fuss and bother within the RISC OS community. However, setting aside any legal difficulties in store for Acorn Computers Ltd, as a community we were pretty quick to ditch the Acorn brand because of its negative message. So I don't see why the community is getting hot and bothered about it.

 is a RISC OS Usergj on 6/5/06 11:29AM
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gi: Whilst the name had problems for us with past associations that caused negative vibes it could also cause problems for us if it also acquires a present negative view. That's why we need to be careful in our criticism and ensure that it can be seen in a positive light. Ironically, whilst it was difficult to use Acorn productively a few years ago (were you deliberately excluding the new hardware not produced by Castle?), we are probably approaching the time when we could reasonably use the term again.

"Acorn (meaning computers that run using Acorn's RISC OS) lives" seems to be a good slogan. Coupled with the ability to start using the Intel Outside stickers again it could make one quite nostalgic.

The Acorn Computers Ltd (2006 version) company seems to assume that it's the only company able to issue "Acorn Approved" labels. They're wrong; but that's the problem of trying to use someone else's reputation.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 6/5/06 11:47AM
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This news story read exactly like an April Fool's. It is in fact a horror story. It makes my skin crawl to think that some bloke is going to use the Acorn brand, with the same logo, to flog IBM-compatible laptops. Acorn was an innovator and shipped products of the highest quality. It was not a box-shifter.

Like someone else mentioned, this is probably not a good business idea. For those who remember Acorns or still use the system now, they will not touch this company with a barge pole either out of principle or because Acorn is remembered as being different and expensive. Furthermore, it will look (to the uninformed) like Acorn failed in it's original business objectives, or that it gave up on it's own products, and is now shifting standard laptops. Who is going to go for Acorn with that view?

If this goes ahead, it will simply tarnish the historical reputation of Acorn.

BTW, it's hardly likely that they are going to sell PCs to turn Acorn into it's former self again. You'd have to lure away the engineers from companies like Pace and Oregan Networks, where they are probably earning rather comfortable livings.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 6/5/06 11:53AM
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gj: Acorn users do not constitute a community as they do not live together, nor for most people is it a pivitol part of life in general. They are customers who need real-world commercial products to buy. I strongly feel recognition of this would lead to more success... and look, Castle is the company that recognises that and tends to be the most professional and commercial-thinking company and hence the most successful.

jc: there is still some way to go before RISC OS systems can be claimed to be more productive. Nicer to use, definitely, but the fact I had to switch to Windows demonstrates a certain lacking with RISC OS software (although I am seriously considering adding a RISC OS box to my setup).

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 6/5/06 11:59AM
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"Castle bought everything lock stock and barrel" - wrong. The Acorn trademark is not owned by Castle, but rather a licence to use it on certain products. That much is clear from the fact that unknown individuals have hijacked Acorn's good name in preparation to try to flog some PCs. I rather doubt whether Castle would have allowed the situation to get this far if they actually owned the name.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 6/5/06 12:02PM
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I just checked my calendar, it is not April the first.

The article sounds like a joke I thought at first, or maybe Bill Gates is fed up with Windows himself? Sceptical? Maybe not.

Seriously, I was thinking much along the lines of arenaman's first message.

After the Castle/ROL licensing dispute a while ago, is it really Castle and Windows or Element 14 and Windows turn?

Who is Element 14 exactly? Is this issue really only a trademark issue?

The publicity of all this Acorn name being used could turn out to be good publicity and awareness to people that Acorn name and computers (RISC OS) have not disappeared?

Imagine turning those Bill Gates "Acorn" computers on....

Welcome (with a Green Acorn Logo) :-(

Acorn XP Professional :-( Ouch!

Acorn is now shutting down :-( Oh Dear!

Acorn updates needed (hourly online message)

Acorn Certified Engineer required to service this machine.

*New* Acorn Bliss Wallpaper

Acorn DOS update modules needed

Acorn MediaPlayer :-)

Acorn Firefox :-)

Sorry to ruffle the feathers in the Acorn nest, but it does sound like a Horror Story!



 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 6/5/06 12:29PM
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Sawadee: Though I do appreciate your sense of humour. :)

People should not let this rock their cradle too much. Yes, it's cheap and filth over our fond memories, but this is the real world. These things do happen and keep happening, and the way some react to it describes very well in what century some of us stand. As long as we keep associating RISC OS with Acorn, we keep living in the past. RISC OS has kept its name for various reasons outlined, but beyond that and its code it has nothing to do anymore with Acorn boxes of the past. It now runs on various embedded devices we don't know about and on special new breed of machines with hardware never before possible.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 6/5/06 12:47PM
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Aren't people jumping to conclusions here? Complaining about trademark infringements, misuse of brand name and so on is a bit premature given that no one seems to have the faintest idea as to who owns this new Acorn Computers Ltd. For what we all know they have bought or licenced all of the necessary trademarks, logos and whatever is needed and will be handed these at the date they intend to come out. It's maybe even possible that Element 14 are behind all this. It would even be more embarrasing to people if Herman Hauser himself stepped out as the owner of this new company.

Many have wanted to get rid of the Acorn brand in the past because of its links to the past, now that someone has stepped forward wanting to use that brand with its history, positive and negative everything goes insane. What are people so upset about - after all, they're giving the market what has been cried about for years... an Acorn portable :)

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 6/5/06 1:22PM
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Well Acorns back then?

Setting aside the fact that we don't know if the new Acorn is using the tradmark legally or not and the fact that they are selling Windows, then this may not be all that bad news for us in RISCOS land.

I loved Acorn for being different and coming up with fantastic products and though I'd be saddened if this new Acorn got associated with the comapny and products we loved, I do not think that it can be all that bad.

If we put a positive on it and keep reminding people that the old spirt of Acorn lives on every time the new Acorn is mentioned then it could be good for our market. Some of the comments on other sites where this company has been mentioned have highlighted some of our comapnies so in a way we've had some free publicity.

Some one said some where that this company was being parasitic on the name of Acorn, well some hosts need that parasite to survive so if our market can get some thing out of the publicity the new Acorn is making then I say that we shouldn't be quick to dismiss it.

Acorn user since the Electron days and proud of it.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 6/5/06 1:43PM
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jc>While I would agree with you that it is *wrong* for one company to use the logo/name of another to help sell an independant unrelated product it is a bit much that you'd be in the vanguard of this protest when in the past you have *well blurred* the line between what is and isn't a RISC PC. I mean *you* incorrectly used the phrase "hybrid computer" for describing PC's that run software that allows the emulation of a RISC PC on an unrelated Windows PC or laptop.

Would you object as strongly to "Acorn Computers" (the new one that is) if it ran VRPC and RISC OS Select something or other? Nah there's a thought.

I await your double back sumersault with interest ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/06 3:15PM
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The examples of Atari and Commodore show you how much impact ressurecting a brand has on its original technology.

 is a RISC OS UserWill! on 06/05/06 3:35PM
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Does anyone live in Nottingham?

According to Companies House -


 is a RISC OS Userbp on 06/05/06 4:24PM
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AMS: No back, double, or even single 'sumersaults' required! ;-) Anyone who heard me arguing quite forcibly against the whole concept of VA (it was quite public at Wakefield when they were first released) will know that I don't like VA machines as an alternative to RISC OS-on-ARM machines. I do accept them when they keep people using RISC OS in place of a Windows laptop without RISC OS, work as a printer terminal for a RISC OS network, or allow a RISC OS company a financial or developmental stepping stone to producing native RISC OS machines. Despite that I coined a distinctive name for them to show that they were different and not to be confused with real RISC OS-on-ARM computers.

But this is not to be confused with what is happening now. I'm glad you agree with what I said regarding the present happenings. The rest is simply well-debated and agree-to-differ territory where I know I'm right and I'm sure you know you are too! ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 06/05/06 5:45PM
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It would be nice to see Acorn selling Acorn machines, but there is nothing 'Acorn' about rebadging PCs with standard software. There is no Acorn 'magic' inside......

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 06/05/06 8:54PM
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Bob: I gather one or two people do live in Nottingham, yes. ;-)

FWIW, the registered address is the address of a chartered accountants (UHY Hacker Young). HTH.

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 07/05/06 1:09PM
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Confusingly, E-14 Ltd is not the entity that was bought by Broadcom. That was E-14 Inc. A separate company (registered in the US for a start) with no legal ties to everything previous.

E-14 Ltd own the trademarks. But E-14 Ltd no longer exists, so it's not clear who owns the trademarks any longer.

From memory (having looked while Companies House was open) Element 14 Ltd became Cabot 2 Ltd, which is still trading, though I suspect it's for sale as an off-the-shelf company.

So, whoever owns the trademarks, they forgot to update the Patent office.

All Acorn's Ltd companies were renamed Cabot # Ltd when MSDW bought the group. Named after the road in Canary Wharf that MSDW's office is on. Coincidently with the postcode E14.

 is a RISC OS UserPiers on 07/05/06 3:04PM
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jc wrote>"I'm glad you agree with what I said regarding the present happenings. The rest is simply well-debated and agree-to-differ territory where I know I'm right and I'm sure you know you are too!"

Couldn't have put it better myself, John.

My original concern at the time of the VRPC launch was that some marketing was a bit "vague" as to exactly what processor was used in VRPC machines (to the point where one announcement only mentioned one processor by name "StrongARM" (to be fair to the company involved they subsequently amended their advertisment to include a reference to the actual x86 CPU used). In that light any "fuzziness" or confusion could cause people to mistakenly think that when they bought an VRPC machine that they were buying an ARM machine that somehow magically could run Windows (when in fact it was the reverse). For that reason your phrase "hybrid computer" was somewhat akin to a red rag to a bull (yes I do know bulls are colour blind !!!!!)).

My natural state is to be a pedant and "hybrid computer" was an unfortunate turn of phrase that meant something different from what I think you intended or implied.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/05/06 5:28PM
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in reply to bob potter: i live in nottingham, but havn't visited the premises yet.

Does anyone know who actually owns the Acorn brand name, it does say on Castle's price list that "IYONIX, The IYONIX logo and RISC OS are trademarks of Castle, Acorn and the Acorn nut device are trademarks." so presumably Castle may know who the copyright holders of the Acorn logo are?

Also even though Castle and other RISC OS companies have discarded the Acorn logo, most "uninformed" people still know it as Acorn (at my school they do anyway!), so if the company is allowed to go ahead with the launch of their new machines, most people will think that they are the 'original' Acorn computers ltd, who have gone into making PCs. and RISC OS ltd is just a 'spin off' company trying to hold onto RISC OS, which could damage the platforms reputation.

Also i agree with John Cartmell and do not like the concept of Virtual Acorn Machines.

 is a RISC OS UserOliverB on 07/05/06 10:30PM
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surley acorn was always about being able to throw the box down the stairs, not what was inside it, that was ARM.

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 08/05/06 1:40PM
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N White: ARM was part of Acorn, until it went off on its own. The A in ARM originally stood for Acorn IIRC, unless you're making a point that I completely fail to miss, because I'm not sure what you mean by throwing them down the stairs!

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 08/05/06 2:19PM
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I think the A in ARM stood for Archimedes. Wasn't it Archimedes Risc Machine?

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 08/05/06 4:20PM
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Acorn Risc Machines

or laterly

Advanced Risc Machines

I may be wrong, since I frequently are.

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 08/05/06 4:48PM
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nex,simon,mark,bob: Bob has it correct.

It now looks as if this discussion has the wrong title. Apparently the new company has the right to use the name "Acorn Computers Ltd" - but it's not the original company and it's not even the same name that has been purchased, just the same set of characters that has been registered. And they have the right to use the name "Acorn" - but it's not the same name that was used by our "Acorn Computers Ltd", not purchased from them or their successors, and cannot be used in the same way as already existing "Acorn"s.

So it's not "The Acorn brand name" used to launch a range of PCs - just "An Acorn brand name" with no connection to 'our' Acorn. Someone may still not be happy about the way the new company go out of their way to ensure that their company is confused in the public mind with another "Acorn Computers Ltd" that was innovative in computer design rather than marketing.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 08/05/06 5:04PM
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In reply to John:

So the Acorn company name is legal, but how can predending to be the old Acorn Computers Ltd be legal?

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 08/05/06 6:23PM
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In reply to jc mainly: On the page linked at the bottom to [link] you can read "That one-time pioneer of British home computing Acorn is to sprout once again. The creator of the Atom, Electron, Archimedes and BBC Micro machines, of the ARM chip company and of the RISC OS is to be revived next week as a purveyor of notebook PCs."

Question arising is who is right... but I guess that we have to wait until that show is over with and then hopefully more information is available on May 10th.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 08/05/06 6:49PM
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Mike/Herbert: The law doesn't cover everything we might consider to be wrong - so it is possible to be wrong - but legal. You need to go back to the company's own statements to see what they are saying - although an aggrieved person might well ask for a court (if appropriate) to take into account the general perceptions that those statements generate.

Also note that, as I predicted, complaints not based on fact seems to have allowed the exhibitions company to (correctly) dismiss those facts and fudge the real problem. Getting the complaint wrong can very easily backfire. You can check the differences between what I say above and the reported statement from the exhibitions people on the acorn newsgroups. Where they differ they're (IMHO) wrong.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 08/05/06 7:00PM
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JC: Who on Earth thought the use of the company name was illegal? I don't recall anyone saying that.

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 08/05/06 8:24PM
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Vince: I think you may be misreading my comments. Your question doesn't apply if you read what I read! ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 08/05/06 9:11PM
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JC: You meant what you said or you said what you meant?

 is a RISC OS Userxyzzy on 08/05/06 10:13PM
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I can only read what you've said, not what you've read - and there was no misreading, only an attempt to read between the lines.

Specifically, you said 'Apparently the new company has the right to use the name "Acorn Computers Ltd"' - a statement which strongly suggests a prior belief that they didn't have that right; had I seen that belief directly stated by you (or anyone else), I'd have pointed you in the direction of information publically available on the Companies House website which explains the ins and outs of this sort of thing.

I did notice PV saying at one point (on csa*) that he'd lodged a complaint with Companies House - however, AFAICR his complaint wasn't about them using the name (whoever he spoke to would have put him straight if so), but about the new ACL's claim on 'our' Acorn's history. (Which complaint I'm not sure is under Companies House's remit, but never mind).

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 08/05/06 10:16PM
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Vince: I think you've answered your own question. PV's complaint to Companies House only makes sense in an assumption that the company may not be entitled to the company name. My comment clarified any outstanding doubt - but leaves the gap between two quite distinct companies using the same name (admittedly at different times) leading to accidental or deliberate confusion. Most people seem to have accepted that the company now calling itself "Acorn Computers Ltd" must be connected in some way to the original company of that name. Surprisingly that is not the case. Regrettably the new company seems rather keen that people do make that mistake.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 08/05/06 10:44PM
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I've just now located PV's post. He wrote "I've just spoken to Companies House, reporting them for fraudulently trying to pass themselves off as someone else and had a very informative conversation with the person on the phone." I suspect the "very informative conversation" may very well have included an explanation of why the 'new' Acorn is able to use the name.

He did also say they were going to launch an investigation, which is why I didn't think his complaint was actually about the name itself - since I'd expect people working at Companies House to know what can and can't be done - but the claim on 'our' Acorn's history. In retrospect, I suspect one complaint, leading to an explanation, may then have become the other complaint.

But I'm just 'suspectulating'. ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 08/05/06 11:07PM
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So it looks like we will be getting a lot more posts on [link] now, that will be interesting.

 is a RISC OS UserPete on 09/05/06 09:04AM
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The issue isn't that they are using the Acorn Computers Ltd name which may well be legitimate, or the Acorn trademarks which they almost certainly don't own, but rather that in all the press releases they have made and in direct contact with them, they have sort to fraudulently pass themselves off as the original Acorn Computers, and are seeking to profit from the goodwill of a different company in which they have absolutely no connection to.

All companies in the RISC OS market created by the original ACL have every right to complain that this deception by a company now selling products for a competing architeture, is damaging to their interests. That is in addition to the moral repulsion against a bunch of shysters taking the name of the last great innovative British computer maker, and using it to knock out cheap and nasty boxes running the OS we all despise the most.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 09/05/06 09:24AM
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Their use of "Acorn" appears legitimate, as they are licensing a 2003 trademark on the word "Acorn" in relation to Computer Hardware.

Their use of the "nut" logo seems a lot more dubious.

 is a RISC OS Usermsww on 09/05/06 09:44AM
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Maybe they would like to come and exhibit at Wakefield, has anyone suggested this to them or is that going just a bit to far ;)

 is a RISC OS UserPete on 09/05/06 1:28PM
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In reply to Pete:

I think we've scared them off. They'll never be able to fight back the anoraks :-p

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 09/05/06 4:35PM
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Could anybody knock up a family tree-style diagram of what went where when Acorn ceased to be Acorn?

(I still can't quite remember exactly what precipitated the collapse)

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 09/05/06 7:44PM
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Druck: "The issue isn't that they are using the Acorn Computers Ltd name which may well be legitimate,"

I agree - but that was the point I was making; something JC said gave the impression that someone thought that /was/ the (or 'an') issue, and I was pointing out that it wasn't.

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 09/05/06 8:20PM
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Hi All.

Okay it is D-day..... I went to [link] and could not beleive what I was reading. Then I went back to drobe to get the correct link. [link] :-)

So we have a company that is so daft to have a name AcornComputers but they don't own [link] who sell computer bits or [link] A site about ARM computers

And their other avenue is [link] registered to some bloke in california.

Ahhhhh true workld class marketting :-)

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 10/05/06 11:16AM
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Hold on :-)

Wasn't that the problem with Acorn....... marketting :-)

Maybe they ARE Acorn. :-)

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 10/05/06 11:17AM
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Maybe I should register acorncomputers.nl and start a webshop selling old Acorn memorabilities. I already have a BBC-B, RiscPC and the highly valued mug, t-shirt and various mouse mats :-)

 is a RISC OS Usernico on 10/05/06 11:46AM
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Or buy acorncomputer.com and register AcornComputerCompany ltd. Then sell Laptops. :-)

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 10/05/06 1:07PM
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Just adding to the fire "Acorn Computers to be reborn as laptop maker" See here [link]

 is a RISC OS UserPete on 10/05/06 1:20PM
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Okay, on a more serious note. Think about this scenario.

School has ad years of trouble free computing with Acorn RiscPC's. The person who recomended them has long gone. New IT chap has only windows experience, however, board likes Acorn. Cue the introduction of Acorn WinXP laptops.

Version 2.....

Salesman enters school. How are you getting on with your window-box :-) supplier? Ans from school..... Costs a fortune and always breaks down.

Well we at acorn can give you the same reliability form our NEW range of laptops. No lies....just a little embelishment.

cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 10/05/06 4:13PM
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"Well we at acorn can give you the same reliability form our NEW range of laptops. No lies....just a little embelishment. "

Should have been

Well we at acorn can give you the same reliability as your old RiscC's from our NEW range of laptops. No lies....just a little embelishment.

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 10/05/06 4:14PM
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Do you thin the new Acorn has an army of salesmen??

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 10/05/06 8:45PM
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AW: >"I still can't quite remember exactly what precipitated the collapse"

The causes of collapse summarized from a Case written by Dr Rolph Balgobin at Arthur Lok Jack GSB:-

Acorn had not recorded a profit since 1994, while majority shareholder Olivetti, who saved the company in 1985, had financial crisises of its own, with debts of 700M Lire (US$200M) and losses of 4 Trillion Lire by 1996. As a result, Olivetti reduced its stake in Acorn from 79.5% in December 1994 to just 16.49% in 1997. Olivetti had been the company's main source of credit, because in 1995 Barclay's Bank refused to lend the company any more money until 1998.

Acorn had consistantly suffered from ineffective strategic planning and uninformed strategic agendas. Its tendency to try and spread itself thinly over a wide range of markets resulted in a lack of focus.

By 1998, a strategic review, lead by newly appointed CEO Stan Boland, caused Acorn to try and refocus itself into an IP developer similar to ARM Ltd. This would have two streams: a Digital Set Top Box division targeting Digital TV, and a DSP design business whose chips would be sold along side the STBs.

However, most shareholders were using Acorn as an indirect mens of getting to ARM. Acorn had managed a profit in 1998 by selling 20% of its share in ARM, but by 1999 the company had become unviable was worth less than its remaining share in ARM. The company was purchased by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (who was also involved in the floatation of ARM in 1998) and, under pressure from investors, the board focussed on selling off key parts of the business to provide returns to investors.

This included its set-top box business (including RISC OS) to Pace for £200,000, and Element 14 (now E-14Inc., not Ltd.) assets to former Acorn executives, lead (again) by Stan Boland for £1.5M from MSDW.

Full Acorn case: [link]

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 11/05/06 03:55AM
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timephoenix: that's a very good summary, thanks for finding it.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 11/05/06 11:04AM
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timephoenix: That explanation misses a number of critical points: Acorn didn't run out of money to continue its core work; Acorn still had a product, a market, development, and the ability to deliver.

The problem was that people were buying Acorn shares in order to dismantle the company for its cash value and its senior management were being pushed to deliver that instead of managing staff and delivering computers. The incidental money wasted in the reverse buy out would have been more than enough to finance a properly managed release and marketing of Phoebe with enough left to produce the Phoebe II that was never originally considered.

Acorn did not collapse. How you described its deliberate destruction from within is difficult - especially as some of those you might want to criticise walked off as millionaires.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 11/05/06 12:39AM
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Is there a possibility that this is all a big hoax?

 is a RISC OS Usermark1282 on 11/05/06 5:15PM
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In reply to Mark:

"Is there a possibility that this is all a big hoax?"

I was begining to think that too.

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 11/05/06 6:54PM
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Jc>"Acorn didn't run out of money to continue its core work..."

Precisely, Acorn *could* have kept going. Yes it might have needed to sell more ARM shares or the like and it would have needed to (dare I say it) market their products a bit better. They instead decided to cancel Phoebe *just* before the start of the new school year and then (if I recall correctly) took an age to decide what they were doing with the remaining bits - in a moment of inspired madness they made a deal with ROL (but didn't give them the rights to the hardware only to sublicense by way of Pace), allowed Castle to produce RPC's from remaining stock (but didn't give them the OS either).... if you ask me I looked liked they wanted it the platform to *die*.

No one group with an interest in maintaining the OS and Hardware had the rights to both... and either that was (IMHO) a sign of breathtaking stupidity or alternatively one of the cleavest ways of killing a platform without making it look too obvious that that was what was done. Please pick your choice ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 11/05/06 7:45PM
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AMS: Acorn was clearly split so it doesn't make sense to guess 'the' Acorn view at the time. What happened happened too fast for everyone to make the best decisions (and hindsight is a wonderful thing!). What I would defend (getting back on topic!) is the magnificent technical development and those responsible. And it's the goodwill of that development, that the company now calling itself Acorn Computers Ltd, is making unwarranted misuse.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 11/05/06 10:45PM
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JC: I'm not entirely convinced that Acorn could have continued operating in its 1997 form because it only managed to stay afloat in 1998 by the selling of ARM shares. Yes, they could have sold off lots more of the shares, but major restructuring would have still been required for the business to become profitable.

IMHO, Acorn didn't react quick enough to market changes - in 1994, when computer purchasing was split from 16 Local Education Authorities into 30,000 individual schools, the company should have moved away from education then and there, as it was obvious they couldn't cope with that many customers, nor compete against cheap PC hardware.

The idea of divisionalizing the company so much also distorted their financial policies.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 12/05/06 04:09AM
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I was told in 1995 or 1996 by the Acorn computer dealer in glasgow , buchanan street, to not buy and acorn. I asked why. He said. they are blindingly fast. Way faster than ANY windows machine we can give you. I said so why not buy one? He said.....You cant get the software for them.

I bought an A5000 (actualy one fo Simtec's custom 8Mb machines from Stuart Tyrrell) simply because the software I wanted to run was a custom bit of kit.

Perhaps it was not Acorn'S FAULT with a perception from retail like that.

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 13/05/06 9:35PM
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Aristide & Co Antiquaire De Marques are now registering the old acorn logo (Their application is TRADE MARK 2421051).

 is a RISC OS Usermsww on 06/06/06 11:42AM
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Would there be much work involved in adapting the A9's internals for use in a laptop? If not then why don't Advantage 6 approach the new Acorn to see if they can do a deal to get hold of some cases? An Acorn A9 laptop would, I think, have more sales potential than the A9home and the Iyonix combined.

 is a RISC OS Useraschamberlain on 17/06/06 09:16AM
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In reply to Andrew C:

Thats a great idea, but I dont think the new Acorn wants to be accociated with RISC OS, to them I think they think RISC OS is dead.

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 17/06/06 09:43AM
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In reply to Mike:

The new Acorn wouldn't need to be involved with developing, selling, or providing support for an A9-based laptop. Advantage 6 and ROL could do all of that. The new Acorn could simply treat the extra case sales as a small extra source of revenue.

Anyway, surely the Acorn brand is indelibly associated with RISC OS? Wouldn't associating themselves with a RO based laptop strengthen the new Acorn's claim to the brand?

 is a RISC OS Useraschamberlain on 17/06/06 11:01AM
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