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Google & Others Sued Over Android Trademark 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the grab-that-cash dept.
suraj.sun tips news that Google and 47 other companies are being sued over use of the "Android" name. Eric Specht of Android Data alleges that Google "stole first and asked questions later." According to The Register, "Google applied for a trademark for Android in October of 2007, but had that application denied in February of 2008. The USPTO's reasoning for the denial was simple: Since both Google and Specht were involved in the development of software and related services, 'consumers are likely to conclude that the goods are related and originate from a single source.'" Reader ruphus13 points out related news that Motorola is planning several Android-based phones for later this year.
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Google & Others Sued Over Android Trademark

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  • by Albert Sandberg (315235) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @05:16AM (#27797099) Homepage

    1) Register a company with a cool sounding name
    2) Run your business like usual
    3) Watch another company make a huge success using your name and wait a bit.
    4) Sue them and profit!

    Have you heard about Android Data before google made their move? Thought so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 02, 2009 @05:31AM (#27797143)

    Not really. Being a trademark it's easy enough to search this up.

    That you haven't heard about it isn't the problem here. If a small business creates a business with a certain name - then of course they have the right to that name - and the right for protection against larger 'dogs' stealing their company name.

    And then there is gmail, which google cannot use in Germany, and which crashes with an older email-product called Gmail in Norway.

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @05:59AM (#27797215)

    There are hundreds of millions of potential names for a business (and that's assuming you use existing, English words). Not only that, there are lots of exceptions for businesses operating in different areas.

    It's not all that hard to come up with an original name. You come up with a creative name, see if you can trademark it, if you can't, you pick another name. It's not incredibly hard even without teams of lawyers. Google applied for a trademark, got it denied because of this existing business yet still pressed on with calling it Android.

    If you operate in the same industry as another, much larger company who uses the same name out of you. It will likely drive you out of business. People will get the two brands confused and every piece of advertising that promotes their brand, devalues you. Word of mouth because worthless too as the confusion means that positive feedback will likely drive people to the more visible company.

    This is a cast iron case of trademark infringement. Google are probably hoping they can settle out of court and get the name for a fairly cheap price as a result.

  • by meerling (1487879) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @06:06AM (#27797245)
    IANAL

    I don't think he'll have much luck pressing a case against anyone using 'Android', just those using 'Android Data' for the same reason that 'Bovine Ventures' won't succeed in suing 'Bovine Growth Hormone'.

    If you don't know, it's because Android is just a single word that's been in the modern language for a couple of generations now. Apparently there are laws against somebody absconding with single words of our language and claiming sole ownership of them. Of course the courts are slow and stupid, so anyone fighting this will have to pay lots of lawyers lots of money before getting this crushed, but at least Google has that cash.

    By the way, those same rules or laws are the same reason why Google can't rub their hands together and laugh maniacally while preparing lawsuits against thousands of authors of science fiction, not to mention a fair stack of movies as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 02, 2009 @06:20AM (#27797295)

    Google are probably hoping they can settle out of court and get the name for a fairly cheap price as a result.

    Oh they will. The owner would have to be stupid to try to hold onto it against a bigger company. Not when he can make a small fortune selling it and retire. Its not overly clever anyways. What do you get when you search for "Android -google"? Nothing related to his product. What about "Android Data -google"? Star Trek.

  • by runlevelfour (1329235) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @06:29AM (#27797327)
    Exactly. I had thought the original intent of laws like this was to protect an established company and/or product from shady unknown imitators who have contributed nothing and not the other way around. Pretty sure this will go nowhere in court, but these kind of shenanigans seem to be more common as time goes by. As OP stated, none of us had even heard of Android Data, and even if I had I sure as hell wouldn't confuse them with a phone OS developed by google.
  • by indytx (825419) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @06:34AM (#27797337)

    1) Register a company with a cool sounding name . . . .

    Have you heard about Android Data before google made their move? Thought so.

    It doesn't matter whether anyone had heard of his company before. The bottom line is he, apparently, had registered his trademark and his registered trademark was still valid with the USPTO. I really don't see what the argument from Google is other than something along the lines of "Our use of the cool sounding name will be cooler." Just to make sure it's clear, Google knew that this guy had an active trademark, and Google used the registered trademark anyway. What. Idiots.

    Is this the IP version of "Kill them all, and let God sort them out"? Personally, I'm getting really tired of news stories about Google taking things that belong to someone else. Of course, repackaging other people's content is Google's M.O.

  • Trademark and Copyright are VERY different ideas.

  • by MadCow42 (243108) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @09:49AM (#27798099) Homepage

    Have you ever actually been responsible for naming products at a large corporation???

    As easy as it may sound, it's one of the single most difficult things to do. Creating a name that has the right feeling and meaning to it, while satisfying all stakeholders AND copyright people is next to impossible. You'll always have n+1 opinions on what name is best, assuming n people are involved in the process.

    The only "simple" way is a dictatorship - such as a sole proprietorship in a small company where the owner does this him/herself.

    MadCow.

  • by Quothz (683368) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @12:43PM (#27799157) Journal

    Yes, and read down a little further: "the trademark Android Data hadn't been used for over three years, that the company has been dissolved for over four years"

    Now read the whole sentence:

    Google countered in August, claiming that the trademark Android Data hadn't been used for over three years, that the company has been dissolved for over four years, and that there couldn't be any confusion between the two names.

    Yeesh. You think, maybe, that Google might potentially have a small bias when making that statement?

  • by Quothz (683368) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @12:45PM (#27799169) Journal

    Even in the most generous estimate, tho', we're nowhere near the GP's claim of hundreds of millions.

    Although a few minutes' thought makes me reconsider, since there's no problem with a single trademark including multiple words. There are quite a few permutations available.

  • by DamienNightbane (768702) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @12:52PM (#27799215)
    Because then they would be sued by T-mobile.

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