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Google & Others Sued Over Android Trademark

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the grab-that-cash dept.

Google 156

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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This is typical stuff. (4, Insightful)

Albert Sandberg (315235) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797099)

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.

Re:This is typical stuff. (0, Redundant)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797111)

5) ???

Re:This is typical stuff. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797179)

6) PROFIT!!!

motherfucker! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797199)

Motherfucker, that's how to score, motherfucker!

Re:This is typical stuff. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797523)

If you don't know what to do after profit, you've got some sort of a problem.

Re:This is typical stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27799269)

Don't you remember? ??? was found recently to be "Ask for a bailout"

Re:This is typical stuff. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

And then there's the obvious ... (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797549)

... that the name "Android" really sucks for a cell phone.

Let's take an example of how it was done right - the Motorola Razr - "as thin as a razor."

But then again, this is from a company (Google) that couldn't even spell their OWN name right. [wikipedia.org]

Google - accidental misspelling of googol. According to Google's vice president, as quoted on a BBC The Money Programme documentary, January 2006, the founders - noted for their poor spelling - registered Google as a trademark and web address before someone pointed out that it was not correct.

Hey, maybe they should have mis-spelled it as "Andruid" - they could have had a tie-in with the Boston Celtics. Or "Endroid" and hooked up with Preparation H. ("Shitty cell phone service? Use Endroid"). Or A-roid - the "Cell phone on steroids".

Re:And then there's the obvious ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797657)

Andruid

Aside: the Irish for "The Druid" is "An Draoi", not "An Druid", which to any irish speaker looks like a strange confusion of english and irish. Technically the english may have retained an archaic "d" ending and modern irish (and scots gaelic) lost it, but anyway.

Re:And then there's the obvious ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797785)

January 2006, the founders - noted for their poor spelling

Well ... that explains a lot. As it happens, I'm an excellent speller (used to win spelling bees in grade school) and I've been having a hard time figuring out why, after all these years, I don't run a major technology company.

Now I know. Damn.

Re:And then there's the obvious ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798281)

"Aim that at me and I'll kill you." -- Jame Retief, "Retief's War"

That has GOT to be one of the best multi-book characters in Sci-Fi. Sure, the stories are a bit pulpy (okay, they're a LOT pulpy, and quite camp), but they're fun "Pulp (sci)-Fiction."

Re:And then there's the obvious ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27798063)

that the name "Android" really sucks for a cell phone.

But it isn't a cell phone. The name may also suck for an OS but nobody picking up a shiny new phone is likely to be worried about the name of the OS - the phone will have its own name for them to salivate over, if that's what they're into.

Re:And then there's the obvious ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798227)

If you see the stories, it's all about "Android" cell phones. Google, and now their partners, went out of their way to raise the public profile of the operating system. eg: "Motorola to introduce Android cell phones."

Re:This is typical stuff. (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27799411)

Gmail...Android...these really aren't great names anyway. You'd think a company the size of Google could come up with better names.

Deciding to name a product "Gmail" or "Android" is like deciding to name your company "Alliance Siding," "Northwest Construction," or "Best Plumbing" and then trying to get it trademarked in all states.

Re:This is typical stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797157)

Are you saying it's forbidden to have cool names for your company? Is it a sin not to be as successful as Google? Is it wrong to get angry when a big company steals your name? Is it that far-fetched that this might cause confusion and hurt your company? Thought so.

Re:This is typical stuff. (1, Redundant)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797949)

Um, just Google "Android Data" you will find sites wondering where exactly Android Data is, because there seems to be no company website, etc. So no, in this case I don't think Android Data is close in the least to being confused with Android the cell platform.

Re:This is typical stuff. (-1, Flamebait)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798443)

Googling isn't a good test. I certainly wouldn't put it past someone at Google to remove references to Android Data back in 2008 when their trademark was rejected. That said, an MSN search for android data also fails to find a company web site.

Re:This is typical stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27799091)

http://www.erichspecht.com

Found via Yahoo - read into that if you want.

Re:This is typical stuff. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797183)

Should have just called them Popplers... or Zitlers.

Re:This is typical stuff. (4, Funny)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797205)

Tastesicles.

Re:This is typical stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797207)

Watch another company make a huge success using your name

Yeah...don't you think that's a bit of a problem? Or are you suggesting Android Data used a time machine in order to "submarine name" Google?

Re:This is typical stuff. (4, Interesting)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is typical stuff. (4, Informative)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797605)

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".

Furthermore, "Android" by itself shouldn't enjoy trademark protection, since it's a common word. "Google Android", "Android Data", "Android Mobile Phone" might enjoy trademark protection--separately from each other.

Re:This is typical stuff. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is typical stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797947)

Trademark protection has nothing to do with how common a word is. You're confusing the term "generic" with how commonplace a word is. Calling a computer mouse "Mouse" is generic or, at best, merely descriptive. Calling a hand-held mobile device "Mouse" would not be.

Android, applied to an actual android, would likely not enjoy trademark protection. Android, applied to a mobile device ... that's different. You don't look at your Blackberry or iPhone and think, "this is an android," do you? Therefore, the uniqueness of applying that label to such a device gives it the unique association needed for trademark protection.

Remember, trademarks are about helping consumers tell products and services apart.

Re:This is typical stuff. (1)

anegg (1390659) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798161)

So if you have a car sitting in your driveway, which you haven't driven in several years, and which it looks like you might never drive, its ok if I take it, renovate it, and then drive it around? Or would you perhaps have a right to contest my taking of your car, even though I'm getting much better use out of it than you would have? Next thing you know we will have big companies getting the government to use "eminent domain" to take trademarks away from other companies because the big company will make more money and pay more taxes if they have the name...

Re:This is typical stuff. (1)

brianosaurus (48471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27799039)

Bad analogy. Google didn't take or renovate anything from Sprecht. He still has all the Android Data stuff that ever was (even though none of us seem to be able to find it). The situation in your analogy is definitely not OK, but it isn't really applicable to this.

The Google situation is more like this: You have a broken down car in your driveway that you call "Android Data". Google builds a spaceship at their headquarters, launches it with several partners, then names it "Android". You see pictures of the gleaming ship rocketing through space, then go out to your driveway and see your busted old pile of junk, and decide to sue Google for $94 million.

Google's Android has nothing to do with Sprecht's Android Data. One is a mobile platform, and the other is... uh... maybe an ISP? I doubt there is any confusion about the marks.

Even if the trademark is legit, $94 million is a huge amount of money. I'm curious to see how they came up with that figure? Did Android Data do anywhere near that amount of business before they closed shop 4 years ago?

Re:This is typical stuff. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27798921)

Trademark is not granted on a Name only -- you need to submit a Name and Use

Android Data -- Software
Android - OS/API

are to similar in Name and Use to the USPTO and rightly so

Android Rubber - fetish gear
Android - OS/API

and not similar in Name and Use to the USPTO and there would be no trademark issue.

Google lawyers and business types screwed up -- end of story.

Re:This is typical stuff. (2, Insightful)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27799157)

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?

Re:This is typical stuff. (2, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is typical stuff. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is typical stuff. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797543)

...and you did that search on a site run by whom?

Re:This is typical stuff. (1)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798351)

A very good point - check this out:

Google Search for "android data -google" [google.com]
Yahoo Search for "android data -google" [yahoo.com]

In both cases, the first result is the wikipedia entry for Data from Star Trek - but in google's case - the company's website (www.ericspecht.com) does not even appear on the first page - on yahoo - it's the second result.

Re:This is typical stuff. (1)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798481)

Oops - the android data site is erichspecht.com [erichspecht.com]

Re:This is typical stuff. (3, Insightful)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798099)

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.

Re:This is typical stuff. (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798569)

There are hundreds of millions of potential names for a business (and that's assuming you use existing, English words)

Just a few points:

The OED lists 171,471 words in the English language... somewhat short of 'hundreds of millions' (most trademarks are single words).

It is best not to use a known word as your trademark. It will be stronger and easier to defend if you make up a new word.

Re:This is typical stuff. (2, Interesting)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27799113)

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.

Re:This is typical stuff. (2, Insightful)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27799169)

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.

Re:This is typical stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797227)

That should be:

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
5) ???
6) Profit!

Re:This is typical stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797285)

That should be:

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
5) ???
6) Profit!

Oh, sorry, two people beat me to it. I suck :-(

Re:This is typical stuff. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797255)

You're an idiot.

Please don't post here anymore.

Re:This is typical stuff. (2, Insightful)

runlevelfour (1329235) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is typical stuff. (2, Insightful)

indytx (825419) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is typical stuff. (5, Funny)

mlscdi (1046868) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797359)

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

I'd heard of an Android called Data [wikipedia.org] ...is that the same thing?

Re:This is typical stuff. (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797445)

You could also ask if people have ever heard of Google's Android. If it wasn't for slashdot, I'd be none the wiser to either entity. If I was the decision maker here, I'd give it to Android Data, they registered first, and it's not like they've sat around on their rear end for 5 or more years waiting for Android on cell phones to get real huge either.

Re:This is typical stuff. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797541)

...

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

Utterly irrelevant.

Just curious, how badly would Google have to fuck up before you and the fanboys who modded you up couldn't find a way to rationalize it?

This seems pretty cut-and-dried. Google's trademark application was DENIED because this other company was using it. "Do no evil" Google IGNORED that.

"Do no evil" my ass.

How's life under Larry's and Sergey's desks, anyway? Being Google, I bet you get free knee pads.

Re:This is typical stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797607)

Someone is jealous!! Aahaaha!

So, working at Microsoft makes you sad? Huh?

Re:This is typical stuff. (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798767)

Google applied for a trademark for Android in October of 2007, but had that application denied in February of 2008.

Regardless of if I have heard of Android Data, Google knew about them because of the denied trademark. Google also knew the USPTO said its decision was final. So, like all the big players they just kept trying to find a way to break the rules or break the opposition. In our system that often involves some campaign contributions leading to some phone calls being made... business as usual.

Google deserves to take it in the shorts on this one, but I doubt that they will.

Just to make clear what isnt in the summary (5, Informative)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797127)

from TFA: "the trademark Android Data hadn't been used for over three years, that the company has been dissolved for over four years"

Re:Just to make clear what isnt in the summary (2, Informative)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797503)

So that simply makes the problem much easier. The holder of the trademark will successfully sue for damages, now those damages absolutely can not relate to the value that google has added to that name of the other 47 companies it can only relate the the value of the name prior to it's use by google.

So a shut down company with no turnover has no real legitimate value in the trademark. However they can of course fight to keep their name and get the benefit (no real cost) of all that free advertising and perhaps even sell it to a competitor.

Now for the more interesting part, as google was aware of the trademark issues and did not inform it's customers, those 47 other companies being sued can in fact loose up purpose, sue google for that loss and any other potential losses incurred.

So the initial civil suit could only represent a relatively minor dollar value compared to the final class action suit by the 47 other companies against google which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Plainly google management was stupid and this reflects real immaturity at the higher levels and, it really comes off as a hand full of google executives believing their own marketing hype.

Also from TFA, though: (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797533)

Also from TFA, though:

Google applied for a trademark for Android in October of 2007, but had that application denied in February of 2008.

I might have more sympathy if the boot were on the other foot, but if you're gonna use a generic name like Android on a high profile product then maybe, just maybe, you should, e.g. run a search on the USPTO database first...

Re:Just to make clear what isnt in the summary (1)

djtachyon (975314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798629)

Next, he will be coming after those of us who have taken advantage [cafepress.com] of the Google Android branding rights [android.com] .

Where was Google's legal department? (3, Interesting)

Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797147)

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...

Re:Where was Google's legal department? (0, Flamebait)

arekusu_ou (1344373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798081)

Google is arrogant as hell, and just spout the message of do no evil. All major corporations are.

Android is much older than that... (3, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Android is much older than that... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797297)

IANAL

Obviously. Further, the lack of legal training is complemented by the absence of common sense.

Re:Android is much older than that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797583)

Perhaps you could enlighten the rest of us with any shred of reason which may exist behind your statement?

Re:Android is much older than that... (4, Informative)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797351)

And more than just a couple of generations. To quote Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , "The term was first mentioned by St. Albertus Magnus in 1270 and was popularized by the French writer Villiers in his 1886 novel L'Ève future, although the term "android" appears in US patents as early as 1863 in reference to miniature humanlike toy automations."

I have got to say that was the first time I have ever heard of St. Albertus Magnus [wikipedia.org] . Turns out he was one of Thomas Aquinas's [wikipedia.org] teachers and was one of the first Europeans to isolate Arsenic.

Re:Android is much older than that... (1, Informative)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797477)

The root of android is androgynous, meaning
1, Having both female and male characteristics; hermaphroditic.
2. Being neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine, as in dress, appearance, or behavior.

Anything displaying such characteristics would be termed android. (See also human, humanoid; paranoia, paranoid;)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/-oid [wikipedia.org]

Re:Android is much older than that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797521)

No, the root of "androgynous" is "andros", meaning "man" (both as in "male" and "human", one might add).

"androgynous" is derived from both "andros" and "gyne" (woman).

Re:Android is much older than that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797629)

No, "andros" specifically means "male."

"Anthropos" means "human."

Re:Android is much older than that... (4, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797741)

No, "andros" specifically means "male."

"Anthropos" means "human."

The suffix -oid means "like, or similar to". Ergo, an an android is like, or similar to, a man. That opens the possibility of having an anthropoid, which is like, or similar to, a human. Of course, we could then postulate an androgynoid, which would be like, or similar to, a she-male. Or maybe a hermaphrodite.

But that's a different story.

Re:Android is much older than that... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798777)

It's Saturday. Not time for etymology nazis.

Go outside, both of you....

Re:Android is much older than that... (2, Funny)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27799281)

Not time for etymology nazis.

Y'know, the word "nazi" was originally* an abbreviation for Nationalsozialist, which means "National Socialist" (from the political party name). It was coined as an insult to the political party and was used in southern Germany to refer to a clumsy fool. It came into English by exiles and refugees from Germany. The actual National Socialist party avoided the word.

It's interesting that, in modern usage, it's managed to take on the meaning of a person who insists upon strict, pedantic application of rules. This is the first time I've heard of an "etymology nazi", tho', since etymology is neither a political stance, a set of rules, or anything at all to do with a klutz. It makes me wonder if "nazi" is gradually taking on a fluid meaning with a negative connotation in the way "gay" has done over the last decade. Soon, we might hear kids saying "This movie is so gay. The director is a drama nazi."

(I am outside.)

*This ignores usage from c. 1903 which was similar to the later usage, but probably did not contribute to it being coined again.

Re:Android is much older than that... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27799357)

So, your post is a Nazi Nazi?

My head asplode....

Re:Android is much older than that... (1)

neural.disruption (1290844) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798671)

The root of android is androgynous, meaning 1, Having both female and male characteristics; hermaphroditic. 2. Being neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine, as in dress, appearance, or behavior. Anything displaying such characteristics would be termed android. (See also human, humanoid; paranoia, paranoid;) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/-oid [wikipedia.org]

Plain Wrong.

Android comes from the ancient greek Andros that means man and from a derivative form of Eidos that means idea depending on the context.
So android means something that has the idea of man(remember Plato?) or at least visually related to it.

Because of this we have the term Gynoid used usually by some SF feminist circles.

Androgynous comes from Andros and Gyne' that mean man and woman respectively and is totally unrelated to Android.

Get your facts right.

Re:Android is much older than that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27799377)

Check out Albertus Magnus college in New Haven, Connecticut.

http://www.albertus.edu/ A liberal arts college just down the street from Jale.

Re:Android is much older than that... (2, Interesting)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

Brought to you by Carl's Junior.

Re:Android is much older than that... (1, Insightful)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797641)

Trademark and Copyright are VERY different ideas.

Re:Android is much older than that... (1)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797787)

Very true but the case I was referring to was a trademark issue too. Using the word copyright in my post was just a slip of the brain. If they trademarked Android Data and then claim nobody else can use the word android it takes one into pretty crazy waters. Some Trademarks have the word "the" in them too.

In the windows/lindows case it was clear that claiming all derivatives of a common word like window was never going to fly in court and of course lindows were happy to settle out of court because the name lindows wasn't as important as a huge cash injection. It will be interesting to see if this results in a similar outcome as the Lindows case.

Re:Android is much older than that... (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797755)

Isn't this similar to why microsoft decided to settle out of court with Lindows.

The fly in the ointment there is not so much that "windows" is used to refer to holes in the walls of houses, but that it also has an established (pre-MS) meaning in the context of computer displays.

MS Windows is so called because it provides a window-based GUI - and "Lindows" could make the same claim.

If Microsoft released a new OS called "Wubuntu", "Wed Hat" or "MS Macintosh" then you wouldn't expect them to get away with it, despite those being words in "common usage".

OTOH, I've seen "Ubuntu cola" on sale...

Being able to copyright a single word that is in common usage would be pretty silly.

This isn't about copyright - it is about trade marks. Completely different purpose, completely different set of rules.

Re:Android is much older than that... (1)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797827)

I don't think that is totally true. The judge iirc was surprised that they wanted to claim all derivatives of a common word like window rather than it's usage in the computing world. If the case had have been pursued it would have been extremely interesting.

Yes, I didn't mean to say copyright, that was a slip up on my part.

Re:Android is much older than that... (1)

mordenkhai (1167617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797611)

I agree completely, you cannot trademark single words in common use. I am sure someday the courts will go ahead and take care of the few tiny companies who think they have such trademarks. I mean the courts are slow and it isn't like they could be aware of any companies with such trademarks.... In a completely unrelated topic I think there was an announcement today by Apple®....

Re:Android is much older than that... (2, Informative)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797653)

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.

Let's correct that:

because android is just a single word that's been in the modern language for a couple of generations now.

Spot the difference? Neither party is using the word "android" to describe a fictitious type of humanoid robot - they both want to use it as a trading name for their businesses, neither of which involves the manufacture of robotic overlords. This shouldn't even be a problem if one made furniture and the other made chocolate bars - but unfortunately they're both in the data services industry.

In the same way, neither Apple Inc. or Apple Corp. can prevent grocers selling the fruit of the Malus pumila tree under the name "apple". Nor, back in the old days when one sold music and the other made beige boxes that went "beep" did Apple Corp. ever have much of a case against Apple Computer (not that that stopped the lawyers).

Of course, no one thought that a computer which could just about squeeze out a tinny version of "Daisy Daisy" (that made a Stylophone sound like a Stradivarius) would evolve into a major music distribution platform. I just hope that, a few years from now, my mobile phone looks like Summer Glau!*

* Including Multitouch(tm) features... er... I'll be in my bunk!

"Android Data" might still be valid (3, Informative)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797319)

The company might be dead on paper, but the trademark is marked 'Live' at USPTO. Both Android trademarks have been filled under same service category, that really means 'collision' from the Office point of view.


Copy&paste from register reveals same or similar business.

Word Mark
ANDROID DATA
Goods and Services IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S:
Computer e-commerce software to allow users to perform electronic business transactions via a global computer network. FIRST USE: 19990101. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19990101

Word Mark
ANDROID
Goods and Services IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S:
mobile phones; operating system software; software for use in developing, executing, and running other software on mobile devices, computers, computer networks, and global communication networks; computer software development tools; computer software for use in transmitting and receiving data over computer networks and global communication networks; computer software for managing communications and data exchange among and between mobile devices and desktop computers; computer middleware, namely, software that mediates between the operating system of a mobile device and the application software of a mobile device; computer application software for mobile phones

Re:"Android Data" might still be valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797437)

I, for one, thought that Paramount Pictures owned the trademark, copyright, and any applicable patents to the Android Data since 1987 at the latest.

Or maybe they don't get the patent until after they have a working model in 2338... I'm not quite sure how that works.

Re:"Android Data" might still be valid (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797581)

There are a few different questions in play here.

One is whether the "Android Data" trademark could be valid in the first place: it is. Even though "android" is an ordinary English word, that doesn't mean it can't be used as a trademark. What it means is that it's a legally weak trademark, and unlike an invented name, it isn't a slam-dunk in court if someone tries to appropriate it.

Another question is whether the trademark is currently valid, and Google infringing on it: technically yes. It was duly registered, it's in the same field of business as Google, and it hasn't lay fallow for very long. "Android Data" and "Android" are similar enough to be confusing.

But a related question is whether it should be, and the answer to that is: probably not. If the trademark never got a foothold in the marketplace (i.e. no one knows it), and there's no apparent intent to use on the horizon (i.e. the company is defunct), another company should be able to pick it up and use it.

Re:"Android Data" might still be valid (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798499)

The company might be dead on paper, but the trademark is marked 'Live' at USPTO. Both Android trademarks have been filled under same service category, that really means 'collision' from the Office point of view.

The trademark is live on paper but dead in reality. I don't think the former owner of "Android Data" has a case; with trademarks, actual use in commerce is more important than the formality of registration.

That leaves aside whether there's actually serious possibility of confusion between e-commerce software and a mobile phone operating system.

Cyberdyne Systems (4, Informative)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797345)

There are a number of real businesses named "Cyberdyne Systems." Good luck to any of them trying to enforce a trademark on the name.

Re:Cyberdyne Systems (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797751)

There are a number of real businesses named "Cyberdyne Systems." Good luck to any of them trying to enforce a trademark on the name.

No kidding. Let alone the fact that anything with "cyber" in it just sounds stupid.

Unlikely victory for Eric Specht (5, Informative)

wesw02 (846056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797389)

I recently took a college class that discussed various issues of software patents and software trademarks. Based on what I learned in my class it seems really unlikely that "Android Data" will win the lawsuit. Not only does Google have virtually unlimited resources, but the term "Android" is a generic one. It is important to note that when trademarking software a trademark is applied to a type of product. What I mean by that is Ford Motors has a trade mark on the term "Mercury" for their car. However this does not prevent the Rhode Island newspaper from using the name. (Someone please feel free to electorate on what I have said :) )

Re:Unlikely victory for Eric Specht (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797455)

Car and newspaper are not of the same class.
The problem is both Google and its challenger work in the same field!
Contrary to your analysis, i think Google will have to pay or abandon Android.

Re:Unlikely victory for Eric Specht (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798995)

Android Data is a maker of cell phone operating systems?

Re:Unlikely victory for Eric Specht (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797461)

"Android" is not generic for anything other than androids or vaguely man-shaped robot things. It is not a generic name for software or mobile phones. Generic means that it is used to refer to a general class of objects rather than a particular brand or object.

So although it is a generic name for a particular element, "Mercury" can be used as a non-generic name for things that aren't that element such as cars and newspapers. If one chemical supplier tried to sue another for using the word Mercury, whether in their catalog or as part of their name it would be much more relevant to consider whether it was generic.

A trademark can also become generic - Hoover is sometimes used as a generic word for vacuum-clean and Port-a-Potty is sometimes used as a generic word for portable site toilet, although legally these are both reserved trademarks referring to the products of specific manufacturers. However I doubt Android could be said to have become a generic word for smart phone. (Google as a generic word for Internet searching would be a much more interesting question).

Re:Unlikely victory for Eric Specht (1)

wesw02 (846056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797687)

Generic was probably a poor choice of words. What I meant by generic is it is a not a name that they made up, it is part of the English language and in the dictionary.

Re:Unlikely victory for Eric Specht (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797757)

Generic was probably a poor choice of words. What I meant by generic is it is a not a name that they made up, it is part of the English language and in the dictionary.

So, in other words, if they'd taken then route of Kleenex, Kodak or Xerox and researched their name in dozens or hundreds of languages around the world to make sure that it doesn't have any meaning in any of them, it would not be generic.

Re:Unlikely victory for Eric Specht (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27798405)

Two of your examples are suspect. I bought some generic kleenex the other day after I went to library to xerox some books for my report.

Oh yeah, and then I took a huge microsoft and then googled myself some. The kleenex came in handy in both cases.

Re:Unlikely victory for Eric Specht (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27798989)

Not so much. "Apple" is a generic term as well, but both Apple Music had a trademark on it. Apple Computer was allowed to use the name because they operate in different industries: It's difficult to confuse a record label with a personal computer.

Same for "Mercury". It's pretty difficult to confuse a car model with a newspaper.

Now, take, for example Microsoft Windows (Windows is a generic term, after all), v. Lindows. Both dealt with operating systems, and one is a blatant play on the other's trademark, it's easy to confuse the two - hence, the name of the latter being changed to Linspire.

In the case of "Android" both operate in software - The trademark being unused, and the company being dissolved doesn't change much. The trademark is still in effect, and the trademark _MUST_ be enforced.

Google doesn't really have a leg to stand on here, a) their trademark application was rejected, and b) it isn't hard to run a search (you'd think a search company would thing to run a search, no?) to see weather a trademark on your name exists, and c) they can't argue that they're in a different industry here.

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797475)

The cheapest and easiest solution is to use the term "Google Android". The problem is collision in the same area, but often in the legal system the answer isn't court, but to change something in fact that makes the issue moot in law. It wouldn't change what people call it, it wouldn't change much at all except that there wouldn't be an issue going forward.

I went through a trademark dispute on a single word about 11 years ago over a single word domain name. A company was saying they owned the " " trademark. (e.g. say Hurricane Electric said they owned the trademark to hurricane.com - it wasn't that, but the same idea). We spent over $100,000 defending ourselves and won, and got some attorney's fees. They lasted only until around 2000 when the bubble burst.

That domain is still around and in use with information on it.

Re:Solution (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797769)

I tend to agree. A lot of people I know already refer to the G1 as the "Google Phone" or "Google Android Phone" ... if they just made that change pre-emptively it would render a lawsuit moot, I would think. Unless, of course, this Specht individual claims business losses or some such ... I suppose Google could still be liable for any damage done to date. I dunno, I'm a lot of things but lawyer isn't one of them.

Worst use of Android ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27797617)

Yours sincerely,

Albert Josephson,
The Android's Dungeon,
Springfield

What surprises me (2, Interesting)

snaz555 (903274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797867)

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

Do no evil.... (1)

surkum (664630) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797875)

as long as you don't need it, or it won't get to sldt, oopss!

trademarks are defend it or lose it. (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27797941)

I suspect google will win this one.

The android data company is just looking for free publicity. I doubt they can afford to fight the legal battle against google.

Re:trademarks are defend it or lose it. (2, Informative)

teg (97890) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798455)

The android data company is just looking for free publicity. I doubt they can afford to fight the legal battle against google.

They're not looking for free publicity - they've been dissolved for many years. They just think that there's a chance they could do a Dire Straits.

Why dont google just use GMOBILE? (1)

bestwin (1495345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27798581)

Why dont they just use GMOBILE it 10 times better name and they already have Gmail

Re:Why dont google just use GMOBILE? (2, Insightful)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27799215)

Because then they would be sued by T-mobile.
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