A single web page has appeared which, on the face of it, is designed to spark interest by containing little or no information, other than the familiar looking name and logo, an interesting catch-line, and a link to the Acorn Computers page on Wikipedia. That page can be found at acorncomputers.com. The first and most obvious reaction to this is to remember the so-called revival of the Acorn brand name a few short years ago, and think “Oh no, here we go again!”
However, there is that catch-line: “A Future for the Past” – the past referred to being the company that brought us the BBC, the Archimedes, the RiscPC and so on; that’s why there is a link to the Acorn Computers page on Wikipedia although, surely, nobody can fail to remember some of the blurb from the beginning of the Acorn Computers (2006) saga, seemingly designed to imply that the ‘new’ Acorn was the same as the ‘old’ Acorn, and not (as was actually the case) a completely different company, making completely different computers, apparently hoping to cash in on the old Acorn name. Nobody would do that again, would they?
A few easily discernible facts:
The domain has existed since 28th April 2004, and may have change hands a number of times since then. The current whois information reveals the name Julien Clairet who, according to Andrew Hodgson (from a more recent attempt at starting a new Acorn company, Acorn Computers (Cambridge) Limited), owns the relevant trademarks on the Acorn logo and name.
I have sent an email to the address shown on the new Acorn Computers web page, and await the reply (if any) with anticipation. Meanwhile, I must return to Soft Rock Software‘s VAT.
Unfortunately, due to the limited time I could spare yesterday morning, I didn’t read any further through the thread on Icon Bar linked to above – but while participating in a discussion there about this new website I did so. In the new thread, Andrew Hodgson commented that Julien Clairet was involved in the 2006-2009 company that sold Windows laptops, along with a Mr Shahid Sultan (Andrew was in contact with Mr Clairet in December because of his intention to start a new company, and therefore the need to investigate the trademark situation) and, in the December 2009 discussion, that both are now involved in a newer company using another old mark: Apricot Computers Ltd.
Possibly the most useful piece of information from that 2009 discussion, is an email from Julien Clairet, quoted by Andrew, in which he says:
“I am working on ARM based smartbooks collaboration, and I wish to continue this task in the coming months.”
Presumably, this is what he is intending for the new website. What these will be, what they will run, and whether it will be possible to port RISC OS to it is anybody’s guess at this stage.
I have this morning received a reply from Mr Clairet to the email I sent to the address shown on the acorncomputers.com website. In his reply, he states a few basic points:
- Firstly, that the domain and simple page are there to “protect the domain names and trademark holder’s rights.”
- Secondly, that “at this stage” the 2006 company producing Windows laptops had an agreement to use the name, and “are not going to strike back.”
- Thirdly, that “a project is under construction for Acorn” and that he couldn’t add any more for reasons of confidentiality.
The first item is straightforward and fair enough, and the third leaves the way open for plenty of speculation – with the most obvious line of thinking leading forward from his comments to Andrew Hodgson back in December 2009: The “ARM based smartbooks collaboration”.
The second item, though, suggests he is distancing himself from any association with the 2006 company – especially if you read it as written in the email:
“At this stage, the Acorn Computers Ltd (who had in the past an agreement with us for using
the name) and their wintel laptops are not going to strike back.”