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John McAfee sues chipmaker Intel Corp. over trademark infringement threat

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John McAfee, the creator of the oh-so-popular antivirus service is currently questioning the availability of his own name for christening future ventures. With regard to the same, he has now filed a lawsuit against chipmaker Intel, who’d bought the antivirus company for $7.8 billion in 2010. It has since then been merged with Intel’s own security division and renamed to ‘Intel Security’.

The lawsuit stems from the fact that John McAfee, the present chairman and chief executive of MGT Capital Investments Inc. expressed his desire to rename MGT to “John McAfee Global Technologies Inc.”. But Intel lawyers issued a letter in response, stating that a name change would be a trademark infringement according to their original contract in 2010. In the lawsuit filing, he says that the chipmaker has warned him that any use of ”his name” will infringe on the company’s trademarks.

According to the letter, first spotted by Bloomberg, Intel’s managing counsel Kelly Smith wrote:

As you surely are aware, Intel(under its Intel Security division) uses the McAfee trademark in connection with its portfolio of anti-virus and other security solutions and services.

Further, McAfee Inc. owns numerous registrations for McAfee and McAfee formative trademarks around the world. Through extensive use, the McAfee trademark is a strong mark and extremely well known in the industry.

He further goes on to add that any use of the McAfee name by MGT Capital or its anti-spy software division D-Vasive(recently acquired from McAfee himself) would confuse customers and may also suggest some affiliation to Intel —  which doesn’t exist. But, John sees the whole scenario in a different light.

In the lawsuit, he and MGT both cite a 1991 document, which shows the sale of certain assets from McAfee Associates to McAfee Associates LP. This document that mentions a lot of trademarks under the McAfee name, doesn’t assign Intel(or any other company) right to his name or restrict him from doing business under the same. He also doesn’t forget to emphasize the fact that the chipmaker has already renamed the McAfee software line-up to Intel Security.

Amid all this commotion, Intel is also planning to dump the McAfee antivirus division and is looking for prospective buyers. It is taking this step as part of a strategy to focus on its more profitable data-center business. PE firm TPG is the top contender for the aforementioned acquisition and has already held preliminary meetings that may value the division at $3 billion, say sources close to the development. The chipmaker could be worried about the trademark infringement because of the buyout possibilities, it is currently out exploring in the market.


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