Motorola landed with Xoom tablet lawsuit on release

Motorola has been hit with a lawsuit over the use of the Xoom name just as it releases the much-awaited tablet today, with the firm in real danger of having to change the device’s branding.

A lawsuit was filed yesterday over the Android-based tablet at the US District Court of North Carolina on behalf of online payment company Xoom Corporation asking that Motorola cease from using the name with a permanent injunction as well as a “temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction”.

This is well and truly a spanner in the works for Motorola on the day that it releases its iPad rival, with attention likely to be attracted for all the wrong reasons.

However why this wasn’t dealt with before is unclear, particularly since Xoom Corporation is a  reasonably well established company that has been trading for a number of years, meaning that it is hard to fathom quite why Motorola would have ignored the matter.

According to Florian Mueller’s FOSSPatents blog, Motorola’s alleged trademark infringement is described as “willful and intentional conduct” for which Xoom Corporation believes to be entitled to “treble damages”.

It is believed that the firm has been operating using the Xoom moniker since 2003, with a trademark registration filed a year later, while Motorola filed its own trademark last October.

Matters are made worse by the fact that as Xoom appears to be a relatively well known company and is perhaps not just attempting to make some quick cash off the back of Motorola device.

In recent rounds of investment between 2007 and 2010 the firm received $53 million of venture capital from large venture funds which, coupled with the fact that high profile lawyers Morgan, Lewis and Bockius will be fighting the case, shows how serious the lawsuit is.

Furthermore, as Florian points out, while there is another small Texan brand operating under the name Xoom to sell office supplies, Xoom Corp are engaged in online transactions, so it would be quite possible that tablet could be used to perform transactions via Xoom Corp.

Although the outcome of the case is far from decided, it is certainly an unwelcome distraction for Motorola when it would rather be focusing on the launch of it Honeycomb based tablet especially with the general excitement and retail sources reporting optimism over sales, according to Digitimes.

And with features that are mainly surpass the original iPad and seek to preempt what the second generation Apple tablet might bring to the tablet 10.1-inch the Xoom is well placed for an otherwise successful launch.

Though consumers are likely to feel the sting with Motorola’s tab initially retailing at around $800, as compared to $499 for an entry level Apple product, with an iPad beating screen HD resolution of 128 by 800, 2 megapixel front-facing camera and Flash player at least on its way the Xoom appears to be a competent rival to first gen iPad at least.

The Motorola device also comes with 32GB of memory though there is a card slot that will allow an upgrade, with battery life claimed to be around the 10 hour mark for video playback.