back to article Google sued for 'stealing' Android name

Google and 47 other international corporations have been sued in a US District Court for trademark infringement over their use of the word "Android." To Google, Android is the name of its open-source, Linux-based operating system for phones and mobile devices that it introduced in November of 2007. To Erich Specht, a software …

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  1. JohnA
    Stop

    He's right

    [The suit contends that "it is clear that Google stole first and asked questions later."]

    That is Google's mo. They take without asking and then deal with the lawsuits later.

  2. vincent himpe
    Stop

    just call it Gphone

    and get it over with.

  3. TBW
    Joke

    Aww.

    "Android Data" and not a single Star Trek quip in the whole article? For shame!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    search the word "adroid"?

    Hate to ask the obvious question. But, I wonder it anything turned upon on search services when "Adroid" was keyed in?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    To google:

    Androgenius?

  6. Christopher Ahrens
    Stop

    Hopefully they'll learn

    The big companies have been taking this stance for too long, especially Google of "Take first, ask questions later", particularly with the containerized Data-center thing.

    (the act that the patented the idea after seeing a presentation from Sun on the exact same Idea..)

    And then there is Apple patenting everything under the sun (colored materials, vague shapes, and connectors)

    The guy may be a bit of a patent troll, but we need someone to show how cocked-up the Patent system is, or at least get the companies to re-think their patent policies

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Android Story

    Has everyone forgotten a great science-fiction writer called Isaac Asimov ?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @search the word "adroid"?

    Probably nothing relevant considering that the correct spelling is "Android" - (jeez...)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Oh well

    I hope Google will learn the lesson of checking up on these types before dismissing them. Yeah I really think this guy is simply cashing in and has zero intent of ever using the Android name ever again. Yes I think this is a total shit out for him and he is one of the luckiest people in america for stumbling into this situation. However Google was stupid for dismissing him the first time around instead of looking deeper into his claims. I suspect they may find out that it would have been cheaper to have simply paid this guy of at the beginning.

    btw I'm surprised Cade isn't the one writing this story given his almost clinical obsession with all things Google.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    I dislike Google as much as the next guy...

    but no one should be able to patent a dictionary word, not Google, not Microsoft, not a nobody. US & A, change your patent laws.

  11. mittfh

    Google's not alone...

    Surely "see something you like the look of, develop a clone in-house, then deal with any legal issues later" is the American IT business's MO. I seem to recall Microsoft and Apple doing that...

    Some people / companies might be able to be bought by offering them a few million to sell them the name, but if too many name disputes result in a suing, then some people/companies might be tempted to refuse the offer, persuade a judge to slap a court order on the big company, then sue them for using the name in the hope of getting significantly more than the initial offer...

  12. Kevin Reader
    Pirate

    Hmmm....

    Right, so google wanted to use a name. There was evidence some guy owned it in a software context. ok so far. So google decided to fight for it rather than quietly sidle up to him with a biggish cheque. How very very Redmond of them. It does appear that their mask of hippyness is slipping a bit.

    Right - Challenge. Alternative names for Android phone o/s preferably with an androidy feeling (or an A at least. My first thoughts:

    Asimov - ofcourse - I'm sure a licence might be available.

    Isaac - for the same reason.

    Robbie - eventually to followed by Lenny, etc

    Calvin.

    Daneel.

    Sally - as although she had a positronic brain she seemed not follow the rules either.

  13. Hugh McIntyre

    Re: I dislike Google as much as the next guy...

    Nobody is patenting a word. Instead they are registering a trademark. Different concept.

    Kind of like the use of "Windows" by Microsoft, "Tide" for washing powder, "Odyssey" as the name of a car, and many other consumer products with words-as-names.

  14. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    Okay

    'Android' was my nickname in school in the early 80s. Who do I sue?

  15. evolx10
    Linux

    so what happened?

    So this guy sat on his bomb of a company.... google and other companies started using a name that represents 50% of the title of his crappy company. This reminds me of Trump saying people cant say "your fired" this is bloated nonsense, its a word, you cant own it, if the judge deciding this had any sense it would tell both to shut up and go home you cant own a single word --especially one from the mid 1700's ---- who does this lurking lawsuit throwing looser of a start-up guy think he is? Google?, ?apple?.. give this guy a few mil , he will prob blow it on some other failure . hopefully it will end up cloging his sinus while foam emanates from his face holes.

    I think the real issue is that people are claiming words that they did not create, words that existed before their grandparents, before google, and transistors. I don't see this guy as any different from the douche who purposefully slips on a well placed plastic bag in a store to get a payout. He just wants his pay-day, he wants google to pay for his failure of a life.

    this is not like what 1/2 you here are saying. google is not stealing the name from this clown. just like this guy did not steal it from intellectuals in the 1720's that coined it. no one should have rights to a common dictionary word...... Besides im pretty positive that no one would confuse a highly marketed / multi -whatever million/bln dollar investment in technology with a small company called "android data" could he get sued for using the word Data? or could he now sue any corporation using the word data? when does it end.. he is a selfish person, just because its a multi Bln $ corporation, its still just the American way,,, Take advantage !, Rape while u can, Use Abuse Waste. and of course Sue damit! , if u want revenge on the world Sue someone, LAwsuit, my god pls keep the bloated legal system pumping.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ Kevin Reader

    "Alternative names for Android phone..."

    I vote for Cherry 2000

    Paris - Cause "...as although she had a positronic brain she seemed not follow the rules either."

  17. andy
    Flame

    I can't stand Google but..

    This guy seems just seems to be some loser trying to revive his failed company... I couldn't find any trace of a website made by Erich Specht let alone a mobile OS.

    As for 'people may get confused', please, your a fuckin' nobody!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Just someone else looking for an easy buck.

    need i say more...

  19. Michael
    Happy

    "These are not the'droids you are looking for"

    .......awaiting the final verdict from our non-fleshy shoulder-turreted overlords.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Fill yer boots!

    I think its great that joe public can TM a name and then get megabucks from the big boys, Im off to get a pile of application forms right now !

    And it doesnt cost the taxpayer a penny, its all gonna come from those robbing gits pockets ;)

    Sweet. :)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @evolx10 - Noone should have rights to a common dictionary word

    You mean like Windows, Apple, Canon, Flash, Mars, Milky Way. Or... y'know almost every bloody trademark ever.

    And as "research" pointed out by The Reg showed earlier this week, these 'words' have massive imaginary worth in the eyes of magicians and pseudo-accountants. The power of a brand is an essential part of marketing a company.

    The wonderful thing about law is that even if you're the little guy, with an unsuccessful business you are offered the same protection against someone stealing your trademark as the large company. That's not greed. That's protecting what limited worth your company might have.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ideally...

    This would result in the whole concept of trademark being thrown out. People get confused regardless, even with simple math problems let alone similar or identical words. Market more precisely.

  23. MnM
    Gates Halo

    fair dos

    Let him play it out how he likes! Google will be operating out of sheer expediency, they'd rather pay him more, later, than allow him to slow them down.

    @evolx10 - what a fresh and spongy young prawn you are. '...people are claiming words that they did not create, words that existed before their grandparents, before google...'

  24. Steven Knox Silver badge
    Coat

    Not a chance

    I just Googled "Android Data" and couldn't find the company's site. So it clearly doesn't exist...

  25. Paul

    he should be paying Google...

    Some might think getting confused with Google is amazingly valuable free publicity and an even more valuable boost to his product from association with Google.

    ...of course the absence of any product to sell off the back of that spurious association and the inevitable attention of a Google deathstar legal team if there was a product do spoil the opportunity a little ;)

  26. Brian Sorenson

    Android - not really a great name - make it simple

    Google should not pay to settle --

    Besides, Android is not that great a name for branding -

    my advice - call it Gphone or GMobile

  27. Brian Sorenson
    Thumb Up

    forget Android

    call it Gmobile or Gphone

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    This is Deja Vu, well actually now...

    For myself and a very large corporation is trying to walk all over me. Well they F'ing well arent going to and will go on as long as it takes.

    As for the USPTO, what a bunch of twats. Its not like the USA can say "Look we are doing it right

    and we are the richest Country in the World because of it" because the USA is actually technically Bankrupt for trillions of US$ . IF they and the UK were doing things right then we would all be rolling in it,money that is, but we arent. In short the USPTO has no face with which to say that they are right in ANYTHING coz they aint.

  29. Bod

    Trademarks

    Don't know how it works in the US, but as far as I know trademarks aren't about protecting a name, but protecting the use of a name to represent the same business as the trademark holder.

    Hence Apple Corp Ltd and Apple Inc shouldn't infringe on each others trademarks, so long as they don't represent each other's business (Apple Corp trying to sell computers, or Apple Inc trying to sell Beatles records, for example).

    So an OS called Android is no trademark infringement on Android Data which I assume has nothing to do with operating systems. As said also the trademark holder has to use the trademark otherwise their case is null and void.

    As for whether Roddenberry trademarked Data, the Android... ;)

  30. Paul Ross
    IT Angle

    Android Netbook - haha

    Does Erich Specht work for Psion? :-)

  31. George Snyder

    Why Android?

    Why Android? Make the name more relevant to the business at hand. how about Cellroid? The way those little plastic boxes are hyped like the latest celluloid blockbusters, it would be the perfect name.

  32. Saul Dobney

    Sue the lawyer

    Google screwed up. They should sue their trademark lawyer, who shouldn't have let them get close to trying to use the name. The original owner has got lucky because of the lawyer's blunder - there really isn't any excuse.

  33. Rob Beard
    Paris Hilton

    Android is not the name of the phone

    Android isn't the name of the phone, it's the name of the OS on the phone (like Windows Mobile, Symbian etc). For instance Nokia don't have a phone handset called Symbian and HTC don't have a phone called Windows Mobile.

    I do agree though with some of the other comments, it sounds to me like this guy has basically decided that he can make a quick buck out of Google etc (I mean why else sue god knows how many companies). In my eye he's no better than them bloody patent trolls who are just in it for the money.

    Paris because well, she doesn't look like a troll.

    Rob

  34. Boyd Crow
    Happy

    GPhone GMobile - GSpot

    Yes for GPhone. Then anywhere you could get a signal would be a GSpot.

    Pardon me while I go trademark GSpot.

  35. Francis Fish
    Coat

    I feel a "Red Dwarf" moment

    Kryten, where is your favourite TV series now?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IP Law is so completely... idiotic

    Really. If the point is to advance the arts & sciences and protect the rights of "the little guys" who contribute to them, then it's not being advance in this or in most other cases.

    A trademark on a common (albeit derived from science fiction) noun is idotic. It has always been stupid. Even "Android Data" is a stretch, given that the entire television-watching planet knows of an android named "Data". Maybe the PTO should have considered that before they gave the guy his certificate back when they did. Doesn't anyone over there *read*?

    Just like the recent fights over hypertext (first conceptualized in the 1930's), what we're dealing with here is a patent system, and a society, with the memory of a nine year-old. And not a very smart one at that.

    But then, what can you expect when bank executives and football players get multi-million dollar contracts while cancer researchers have to scramble around to stay above the poverty line?

  37. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Pirate

    "Android Data"

    Ding Dong, it's not Jehova's witnesses this time, its Paramount lawyers at the door, baby.

    ...or whatever outfit owns Star Drek these days. They want their Data back.

  38. Charles Manning

    Google didn't come up with the name

    They bought Android the phone dev company.

    Therefore it would be wrong to say that Google actually stole the name.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows

    IIRC, Microsoft were not allowed "Windows" on its own as a trademark, the actual trademark is "Microsoft Windows". The word windows on its own is too generic and was used in the same context before MS got into that game.

    I see the usual confusion above regarding patents and trademarks, probably someone has copyrights mixed up as well. This one is a trademark dispute. You can have more than one company with the same trademark, so long as they are not in the same line of business, or if they are they are easily distinguished in some other way like geography, hence Apple records and Apple Computers got along fine until the computers started getting music playing capabilities. (cutting a long story very short.) You can use a generic word, it does not give you exclusive rights to it, only in the context of referring to your product or service. Although it is quite a good idea to modify the spelling to distinguish yourself, as you may notice is done quite often. Contrary to what some company lawyers seem to think, it is perfectly legitimate to use a trademark to identify a product in order to review it in an unfavourable way. So whether I love it or hate it, I can use the term Microsoft Windows to make it clear to you what I am talking about.

  40. TeeCee Gold badge
    Paris Hilton

    Looks like they asked for it.

    So Google applied for the trademark and it was turned down 'cos it was already in use?

    And they went ahead with it anyway?

    And now the original holder's sueing the shit out of them?

    I guess that nobody could possibly have seen that one coming....

  41. Arclight
    Pirate

    To be fair

    Calling him a patent troll is a mile off the mark. For one it isn't a patent. Secondly he did having a working company by this name back in 02, and the moment he heard Google where using the word 'Android' he filed a suit to stop them using it, not one demanding huge damages. Its Googles on pig-headedness which has brought this case about. They where told twice by US courts that they couldn't use it, but ploughed ahead anyway.

  42. M Neligan
    Coat

    Alternative name?

    Dick? ("Do Androids Dream").

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    "I Google'd Android Data and found nothing"

    To all those who've commented the above:

    THINK!

  44. Gaz
    Flame

    I'm going to trademark

    ..the word phone. So when anyone with a land based, cell or otherwise kind of phone I can sue the living sh*t out of them. Android is a common word FFS. I'm coming out with the new phone "robot"...I'll sue anyone using robot! What a TWAT@! AAHH! this type of stuff sends me thru the frickin' roof! Good Monday morning !

  45. Sam Crawley

    Madness

    The patent troll guy (and that's precisely what he is) seems to have trademarked "Android Data" not "Android".. does this mean that any component of trademarks is also restricted? Gillette have "The Best a Man Can Get".. no more using "Best" for any shaving gear anyone else?? Ridiculous...

  46. Matt Mc
    Linux

    Do androids dream of electric dollar bills?

    Asimov, Dick, Lucas... How many other people have utilized the very word "Android" and reaped lifelong benefits into perpetuity (yes that's after-lifelong)? Specht will not be one of those people. He may make a fortune off a well-timed patent, but Google will be known for the "Android" OS. Period. If it costs them a couple mil to do it, so be it. Oh, and if the whole thing fails? Google will still be known for the "Android" OS and we in the IT community will laugh and laugh and laugh about it. "Remember when Google got spanked by that... what's his name?"

  47. Billy
    Stop

    @ Steven Knox

    Did you really expect Google to list his site?

    Its the first result on Yahoo.

    http://www.android-data.com/index.html

  48. Lennart Sorensen
    Thumb Down

    How can this even be an issue?

    Android is a word that has been around for a very long time. How can anyone even get a trademark on that? It's just as stupid as Apple and Windows (which I don't think is trademarked except in combination with the word Microsoft).

  49. Chris C

    Stupidity abounds

    After reading the comments here, one thing is painfully obvious -- many of The Reg's readers are complete idiots with no grasp on that of which they speak.

    1. Erich Specht is the registered holder of the "Android Data" trademark. TM serial number 78011167. Filed: June 4, 2000. Registration date: October 22, 2002. TM first used in commerce: January 1, 1999. G & S: Computer e-commerce software to allow users to perform electronic business transactions via a global computer network.

    2. Google decided to use the name "Android" for their computer software.

    3. Google attempted to register the trademark "Android" in October 2007, five years after Android Data registered their trademark. Google knew (or should have known by doing a simple search) that the trademark was already registered.

    4. Two people/companies cannot register the same trademark in the same goods & service category. That is why Google's registration was denied.

    5. In order to keep your trademark, you MUST defend it. It's not like patents where you can decide whether or not to defend your IP. With trademarks, if you fail to defend your trademark, it will be revoked. For that reason, Android Data is LEGALLY OBLIGATED to sue EVERYONE violating their trademark.

    Is this a stroke of good luck for Android Data? Probably. But is he a "troll" or "scum" as many people here are saying? Absolutely not. He registered his trademark long before Google even thought about mobile phones, back when Google was still in its infancy.

    As for those idiots saying you shouldn't be able to use common words as trademarks -- that's precisely why trademarks are registered for specific goods and services. It DOES make sense, and it DOES eliminate confusion. That is, unless you think having two similar products using the same exact name wouldn't be confusing. For example, two companies each developing software applications, and each one calling their app "GNU" or "Windows" or "Java" or "Eclipse", etc. Just by saying the name, nobody would know which one you were talking about. THAT is the reason for trademarks. Now, if you had a software application called "Windows" and a line of contact lenses called "Windows", there would be no such confusion, which is why the same word/mark can be used in different goods/services categories.

    Oh, and if you want to look for ridiculous things, look at trademark serial number 78710784 where Google tried to get a trademark on "SARBANES OXLEY" for G&S "Broadcasting services, namely, software-based sarbanes oxley act compliance solutions". In other words, Google didn't want any other software developers to be able to use the name of the law the software was created for. But you're right, Google are, and will always be, "the good guys".

  50. michael
    Black Helicopters

    @Steven Knox

    of corse he dose not apeare on google they have removed him form history

    waite do thouse black helicopters have adwords on them?

  51. Saul Dobney

    Trademarks aren't patents

    Trademarks are partly for the protection of the consumer (but also help the owner). Think of buying a camera on Ebay. If some tries to sell you a Cannon camera and you think you're buying Canon. Trademark means that if they are 'passing off' the fake Cannon brand as Canon then the seller can be sued. It allows consumers to make mistakes but still get the brand they expected.

    Now of course IP lawyers, being lawyers, try and use the law for extortion. However, the law on trademarks isn't that bad and nowhere near as mad as US patent law. US companies do register their tag lines but "The best a man can get" being registered is the whole phrase - not words, since you can't register generic terms and you have to look at the categories for registration. You can't register the single word 'best' for instance in any category.

    Not so long ago there was the story of a Russian who thought he'd brought the 'patent' to some word or other, clearly sold a trademark by an unscrupulous lawyer who should have known better, so if you don't know the difference between Trademark and Patent, I'm sure there is someone out there who'd be pleased to take your money.

    This on the other hand is a plain FU by Google.

  52. Daniel Jones

    To all those who said...

    ...the Windows trademark only applies to 'Microsoft Windows' specifically, and not Windows.

    You must have very short memories.

    Do you not remember 'Lindows'?

    Whilst I'm no fan of Google, when I first read this article, I thought that the guy must be a trademark troll. Looking at the website (which is now listed by google; it's third in the list) to be honest I'm not all that convinced he's not a troll now either. It's something that looks like it could have been knocked up in a couple of hours or less. A swift whois reveals an apparent creation date of 20 April 2009.

    What gets me is why on earth just because something is a piece of software it has to have a unique name; the two pieces of software do completely different things, for Goodness sake. One is a mobile OS and one deals with web content (and is vapourware by the looks of it).

    Meh.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Way back when?

    holding page in Dec 01 & Jan 02 then nothing till 2009...

    http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://android-data.com

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Googling Android Data

    The page now appears in the results of a Google Search however its not the top of the list, if i was paranoid I'd assume they put it back in the results to avoid comments like those above however my cynical side this that it wasnt there because Google cannot index a page that doesn't exist and even google with its near endless server farms can index the whole internet in one night...

  55. Chris C

    To the happily ignorant

    Look, I know most of us are in IT, but to all those idiots saying "I can't find a website, so he's obviously just a troll" --

    Not all companies, even those in IT, have a website. The existence, lack of, or registration date of a website has literally nothing to do with the existence of a company. Has the Internet really retarded or regressed your development so much that you actually believe that a company doesn't exist if it doesn't have a website?

    This guy properly filed for a trademark registration in June 2000, registering the name of his company. Now, almost nine years later, you're calling him a troll because he's performing his legal obligation of protecting his trademark. There's a reason the USPTO denied Google's trademark registration. For an organization that loves to grant everything possible, that should be a very telling sign.

    Imagine if someone decided to make a software app and call it "Linux" or "OSX". Do you think Linus or Apple wouldn't go after the person/company to make them stop using the name? Do you really think it WOULDN'T be confusing to have two pieces of software with the same name?

    And this is about a trademark, NOT a patent. Is it really that difficult to read and understand the article before you open your mouth and prove your ignorance?

  56. Bod

    @Chris C

    "Android Data" : Computer e-commerce software to allow users to perform electronic business transactions via a global computer network

    "Android" (Google's use of it): Computer operating system for mobile phones

    Different things entirely (not to mention Google's use is only of the word Android, not Android Data which implies something different.

    Regarding point 4: "Two people/companies cannot register the same trademark in the same goods & service category.", I don't know how it works in the US, but in the UK it's not necessarily use in the same category, but simply "passing off" someone else's trademark to represent the same business. You can have two companies using similar trademarks in the computer business, so long as they don't represent the same business and products.

    However the bigger the company and lawyers, the easier it is to protect your trademark even if the other company doesn't represent your business at all (e.g. McDonalds vs a number of businesses using the 'Mc' prefix even though most of them don't sell burgers). Part of that is because it's easier to confuse an unknown company with a similar name to a very famous company, than it is with two relatively unknown companies.

    In this case it's more likely that Android Data is too easily confused with Google's Android rather than the way round they reckon, which is why their claim is pointless. The infringement on the "passing off" rule doesn't apply as they are two very different products that don't attempt to represent each other.

  57. Steve Evans

    Would you really want to p*ss off google?

    They could make you effectively vanish from the intarweb!

    if (search_result->domain_name=="android-data.com") {

    ranking-=500;

    }

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Adroid

    I quite like "Adroid", intentional or not.

    Google are an ad broker, and the name reflects that.

  59. Cortland Richmond
    Alien

    This is not the 'droid you are looking for

    Do not underestimate the Dork Side of the Force!

  60. Paul

    Same thing happened...

    ...with Rhapsody - Realmedia released it, and then a band that had been going for years with several albums under their belt had to change their name. :)

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