Austria's supreme court has told electronics giant Sony to take a hike over its claim that it has exclusive rights to the "Walkman" name for portable stereos.
Sony said on Wednesday that the court had ruled that a wholesaler could refer to rivals' portable players as "Walkmans," dealing a blow to its jealously guarded trademarks. Sony had filed suit in Austria in 1994 to bar a wholesaler from using Walkman as a term for other manufacturers' goods.
But the court ruled that Walkman had become a common noun for portable stereos, citing among its reasons a definition of "Walkman" in a German dictionary that did not mention Sony.
Sony, the world's largest consumer electronics maker, vowed to continue pursuing legal means to protect its rights. "This is our own property and not a common noun to be used by anybody," a spokeswoman said. "This judgement is not satisfactory for us at all." The spokeswoman said Sony knew of no similar suits relating to the Walkman trademark elsewhere.
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