McAfee-the-man wants McAfee-the-brand, Chipzilla says no

Sueballs loaded; take ten paces, turn and fire

John McAfee wants to put his name on a business again, and that's got Intel hot under the collar, so it's off to court they go.

Documents filed (PDF) in the Manhattan federal court over the weekend tell us that in June, Intel wrote to McAfee-the-man's investmentvehicle, MGT Capital Investments, telling it not to try changing its name to John McAfee Global Technologies.

McAfee-the-man might have thought that Intel wouldn't care, since it put McAfee-the-brand on the end-of-life list in 2014 in favour of "Intel Security".

However, Chipzilla didn't follow through on the promise to free him from association with its products; remnants of the brand live on in various domains which carry the McAfee livery, or still explicitly carry the name.

Now Intel's trying to sell its security business, so it's decided to declare its love for McAfee-the-brand.

So how did we get here? Back in the mists of time, McAfee-the-man wrote antivirus software that was ultimately so successful he founded McAfee-the-company.

In 1991, McAfee-the-company paid (PDF) McAfee-the-man US$9 million for McAfee-the-brand, and in 1994, McAfee-the-man decided to put his feet up and leave McAfee-the-company to its own devices.

Intel acquired McAfee-the-company in 2011 for US$7.7 billion, and in doing so, inherited the 1991 agreement in which McAfee-the-man relinquished McAfee-the-brand.

In trying to sell its security business, Intel wants to keep McAfee-the-brand, at least long enough to help its pitch to buyers (Bloomberg names US private venture fund TPG as an interested party). As Intel counsel Kerry Smith wrote to McAfee-the-man: “any use of the McAfee name would be likely to dilute the McAfee mark … by reducing its unique association with McAfee and Intel Corporation”, says a letter from Intel managing counsel Kelly Smith.

Smith's letter to McAfee-the-man adds that “through extensive use, the McAfee trademark is a strong mark and extremely well-known in the industry”.

True: it's so well-known that when McAfee-the-man crafted a NSFW video telling people to uninstall McAfee-the-product with a pistol, it scored a rather respectable six million views. ®

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