It’s never a good sign when the only thing making headlines for two once-great tech companies is an app that measures a man’s genitals.
HP and, to a greater extent, Palm haven’t been among the most relevant tech companies for many years. But the two crestfallen firms are back in the news today, albeit for less-than-dignified reasons.
Chubby Checker (born Ernest Evans), the early 60s rock and roller best-known for “The Twist,” has reached an undisclosed settlement with HP and its Palm division over an app of the same name that purports to estimate penis size. Checker’s lawyers maintained that the app constituted a trademark violation.
Throughout the proceedings, HP argued that it was unaware of the infringement, having not created the app and merely selling it through its Palm App Catalog. (HP removed the app in September 2012). A U.S. district judge rejected HP’s argument, citing that the app had to be approved by HP before being sold in its marketplace.
The ruling adds insult to injury for a company that was once considered one of the country’s premiere tech firms, having helped shape the computer revolution and Silicon Valley culture as we know it today. (Before there was Apple, Hewlett-Packard was the original “we started in a garage” company). But with PC sales stagnating, HP has lost much of its former luster. It’s gone through five CEOs in eight years, and took a $8.8 billion writedown in 2012 after its disastrous acquisition of data management firm Autonomy went belly-up.
But hey, at least it can put one embarrassing controversy behind it.