Fans in high places -

Fans in high places

The family of the late Philip K. Dick plan to sue Google over its new phone


Dick was the author of Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep?, the book on which the Blade Runner film was based, which featured androids known as Nexus 6; Google’s challenge to the iPhone is called Nexus and its operating system Android. Isa Dick Hackett, the author’s daughter, claims the names are lifted straight from her father’s science fiction novel and plans to sue for infringement of intellectual property rights. “Google takes first and then deals with the fallout later,” she said. “In my mind, there is a very obvious connection to my father’s novel. People don’t get it. It’s the principle of it. It would be nice to have a dialogue. We are open to it. That’s a way to start.” The family says the use of the name Nexus One is a trademark violation, and sent Google a letter on Wednesday demanding the company cease using the name. But when the device was introduced this week, Google claimed the name had nothing to do with Dick’s work, and that it was simply using the word in its original sense— as a place where things converge.

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Fans in high places

  1. Seems like a pretty flimsy case to me.

    • Given who the people are at Google, I've little doubt they've been inspired by Dick's work.

      That said, trying to appropriate two perfectly valid english words and claim any use of them is an infringement of copyright is full of crap. Fortunately for the family, I don't believe Google is the type of company that would bother trying to put a SLAPP suit on them in return.

  2. They're claiming a trademark violation, not copyright – no, you can't copyright two words, but you can trademark them in context. Trademarks have to be policed or they're generally lost, so they're defending their ability to later sell movies, video games, and product tie-ins in future. It's a valuable property and they probably have little choice but to bring suit.

    I'm not sure that Google intended the name as a nod to the novel, though – they're a company that spends a lot of time thinking about networks, and a nexus or hub is a core concept. "Android" is a bit more odd, perhaps looking ahead to when personal digital assistants also walk and talk.

    • Except they never filed a trademark on Nexus.

  3. There is no such thing as a universal trademark for all products. As Joe states, they never filed for a trademark. If they did, they would need a tangible product with a national-international market. And most importantly, they would need to select one of dozens of categories for trademarked products. For instance, If the Dicks trademarket Anroid or Nexus automobiles, that trademark would not cover Anroid or Nexus apparel (t-shirts or shoes), and if they trademarked apparel also, it would not cover household appliances. So if they wanted to trademark Anropid or Nexus cell phones or computers, they would have needed to actually have such products in the market before they could even exert a trademark in this category. No such products made by Dicks exist. This whole issue is all smoke but makes for great web-blog chatter, which in turn makes for many Google links who will pay for all the advertising hits — the only way Google will ever for pay for any of this. No, I'm not an attorney, put I play one on the internet ;-)

    • Just so you know, I am not taking a position on the Nexus One issue. I do not have a dog in this fight.