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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 Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) <JetpackJohn@gmail.com> on Saturday May 02, 2009 @04:31AM (#27797147) Homepage

    After the whole Gmail problem, it seems like Google would have been a little more on the ball with regards to the naming of future products. The article says that the trademark hasn't been used in years and that the company in question has even been dissolved.

    Still, the trademark was granted and Google's strategy seems to have been to think happy thoughts while the USPTO decided the case. Couldn't they have just dealt with Specht before this turned towards lawsuit territory?

    It sure would have cost less to deal with it early on...

  • by Maelwryth (982896) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @04:57AM (#27797209)
    Not quite. From TFA, "Android Data, for which he was granted a trademark in October of 2002 by the US Patent and Trademark Office". It looks like Android Data have been trademarked for a number of years. It is strange that Google didn't buy the trademark in October 2007 after their application ran out, or that they didn't change it to Android OS to differentiate their product from Android Data.

    OTOH, "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." which does seem pretty reasonable. According to the Chilling Effects [chillingeffects.org] website though, the time limit for a trademark is 10 years. Although in the first ten year period you need to lodge an "Affidavit of Use [uspto.gov]" between the fifth and sixth years. Looks like Eric Spech may be receiving some money. Unless a bean counter at Google works out it will cost less to change the name.
  • by Cathbard (954906) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @06:17AM (#27797485)
    Isn't this similar to why microsoft decided to settle out of court with Lindows. IIRC the judge said with a degree of incredulity "You are trying to claim ownership of the word windows - and anything that sounds similar?" Being able to copyright a single word that is in common usage would be pretty silly. Would make it a bit hard to talk to each other huh?

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  • What surprises me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by snaz555 (903274) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @07:55AM (#27797867)

    ...is that the estate of Gene Roddenberry hasn't gotten involved yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 02, 2009 @08:10AM (#27797939)

    A word being common will not prevent the word from being used as a trademark.

    The issue is whether the word is a generic description or representation of the product being sold.

    So if I sold robots, I could not use "android" as a trademark for my robots. However, if I sold mobile phones, "android" is likely a valid trademark.

  • by Quothz (683368) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @11:38AM (#27799113) Journal

    Just a few points:

    The OED lists 171,471 words in the English language...

    That number, I assume, is from AskOxford. It is incorrect. That's how many entries are in volume 1, excluding archaic words and combination word-forms. The full count is more than six hundred thousand, plus their own estimate of another half-million uncatalogued technical words.

    The Global Language Monitor has been in the news recently claiming 999,456 words in the English language, although it isn't clear how picky they are.

    Encyclopedia Americana (1999 ed.) claims 750,000 words.

    "About a million" is a good number to work with. None of these numbers include alternate spellings, which (here I'm guessing) probably number in the thousands, but they do include words that are not so useful as trademarks, like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Even in the most generous estimate, tho', we're nowhere near the GP's claim of hundreds of millions.

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