He’s back! John McAfee fights Intel for right to use his own name

What’s in a name?

For most people, their name is everything. It’s who they are, what they are and it represents all kinds of existential thoughts and issues that are way too big and deep to get into here. But, at the end of the day, we all want to know that our name is ours, and we have control over it.

And when it comes to a name, few names in the tech industry are as singular as that of John McAfee.

As if we need to run down McAfee’s résumé, remember he was one of the first tech gurus to really jump on the security bandwagon. You might argue he built that bandwagon, with the company that bore his name. Since then, McAfee has done a lot of things, such as running afoul of the law in Belize for being suspected of things like running an unlicensed drug manufacturing operation and his connection to an American who was murdered in the county in 2012. McAfee went on the run, was found in Guatemala, then deported back to the U.S. He was never formally charged for any of the incidents in Belize.

If that weren’t enough, McAfee tried to run for president this year as a Libertarian candidate. He eventually lost the party’s nod to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. McAfee also offered to put his security skills to use to help crack open the iPhone involved in the FBI’s investigation of last year’s mass shooting in San Bernardino. And since then, McAfee has joined up with a digital gaming company called MGT Capital Investments, and, as CEO, said he plans to re-christen the company as John McAfee Global Technologies.

And that’s where his name has become an issue.

The issue goes back to 2010, when Intel bought McAfee, the company, for $7.7 billion. Intel has said, in effect, “Hey John, you know your last name? Yeah, well…That belongs to us and you can’t use it for any other business. Sorry.” Anyone who knows anything about McAfee knows that he loves to stir things up, which is why just before the Labor Day weekend, McAfee went to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and sued Intel over being able to use his own name for his own purposes.

The case says that Intel told McAfee that if he uses his own name for another company, he would be violating the trademarks that Intel got when it bought McAfee six years ago. McAfee argues that McAfee is his name and he can do whatever he wants with it.

And, to add a bit of the theater of the absurd to the whole situation…It seems like Intel doesn’t even want the name McAfee, or the company, either. Officially, Intel began phasing out the name McAfee two years ago in favor of calling the business Intel Security. And Intel is said to have held some talks with other companies about selling Intel Security outright in order to put more focus on its data-center business and its high profits.

With what seems like some pretty negative sentiment coming from both sides, we can probably expect some colorful name-calling to come from both Intel and McAfee, if that is a name he can still use, after all.

Photo: John McAfee (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)


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  • Gary Little

    Cue Peter Norton in the wings, please.

  • SamSungSillySong

    Belize hasn’t have him extradited yet?

  • mark huckabone

    Wally Amos (Famous Amos) had the same issue after he sold his cookie company.