John McAfee and MGT Capital Investments, a publicly traded company that in May announced it had acquired McAfee’s anti-spying company D-Vasive and appointed McAfee as its chief executive, today filed suit against chipmaker Intel. The filing comes three months after an Intel lawyer sent MGT a letter stating that MGT’s previously announced plan to change the company’s name to John McAfee Global Technologies would amount to trademark infringement.
The issues go back to Intel’s $7.68 billion acquisition of McAfee in 2010.
“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,” Intel managing counsel Kelly Smith wrote in the letter, which is dated June 3. “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.
“Any use of the McAfee name in connection with your company and its provision of D-Vasive’s anti-spy software or other security solutions would surely be likely to confuse customers as to the source of your company’s products, and/or suggest some affiliation or relationship with McAfee or Intel that does not exist.” (Hat tip to Bloomberg for reporting on the lawsuit.)
McAfee himself, of course, sees things differently. In the complaint, he and MGT cite a 1991 document — reflecting McAfee Associates’ sale of certain assets to McAfee Associates LP — in which he did not assign the rights to his name or agree to not use his name while doing business. Indeed, they point to several trademarks containing McAfee’s name.
McAfee and MGT also point out that in 2014, Intel changed the name of the McAfee software line to Intel Security.
“Substantial non-use in commerce provides the grounds for cancellation of a trademark,” they write. In June, the Financial Times reported that Intel was looking to sell the Intel Security division.
McAfee and MGT claim that the plan to change MGT’s name to John McAfee Global Technologies is “a clear reference to McAfee as … a famed international figure in his own right.”
While McAfee’s name is certainly associated with popular antivirus software, after the Intel acquisition of McAfee, things got weird. In 2012, police in Belize were reported to be seeking McAfee after his neighbor died, and the next year, a video was posted showing him providing instructions on how to uninstall the McAfee software. A year ago, he announced his 2016 presidential candidacy. Initially, a campaign representative said McAfee was running under the new “Cyber Party,” but he has since designated himself as a Libertarian Party candidate. Two weeks ago, McAfee, 70, posted a video to his YouTube channel entitled McAfee School of Badass: Now Open.
Stock of MGT, based in Harrison, New York, today closed at $3.33. The stock spiked in May on news that McAfee was joining the company. Since MGT’s D-Vasive acquisition, MGT has also acquired Demonsaw and Sentinel.