Confusion Over Rival Claims to 'MiFi' Name

by Ben Smith on 8th September 2009

Iffy MiFi

At least it wasn’t just us who was confused when 3 announced the launch of their portable hotspot product, calling it ‘MiFi’.

We asked if they’d been mistaken in using the name of hardware manufacturer Novatel’s product (which we gave a first look last night) also called ‘MiFi’, whilst 3 themselves had selected a device from vendor Huawei. But our questions went unanswered…

eWeek Europe thinks they’ve got to the bottom of it:

Mobile operator 3 UK has announced a portable Wi-Fi hotspot for mobile broadband, in time for Christmas, cheekily calling its service MiFi, after the name of a rival device.

[3] is well aware of the name clash, and says it owns the MiFi trademark in the UK, where it refers to a service, not a hardware device: “We’re allowed to use it when describing our service,” said a 3 spokesperson. The 3 press release slides the distinction in neatly: “‘MiFi’ and its device is a registered trademark of Hutchison 3G UK Ltd,” it says.

The 3 service uses the Huawei E583X wireless modem, launched earlier this year – but the 3 service has the same name as a rival pocket hotspot device from Novatel, the MiFi…

However, comparing the filing dates, whilst it’s correct each organisation owns the trademark in different countries it does look like 3 claimed the name first in April 2007 versus Novatel’s registration in December 2008.

Could it be eWeek have called-out the wrong firm?

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