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January 6, 2010 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Google's new phone has raised the ire of Philip K. Dick's Estate.

Yesterday Google announced its very own Android phone to compete with the Iphone and presumably with The Verizon Droid and other Android phones. They chose a familiar name for their new Android. You may remember it from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or the movie Blade Runner, where the androids in question were Nexus Sixes. This seeming homage has not endeared Google to the heirs of Phil Dick. Oh, and yes Verizon licensed "Droid," which is a registered trademark of Lucasfilm.
posted by dortmunder (165 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a non-competing industry, with a different name.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:42 AM on January 6, 2010


i have right here in my house a copy of henry miller's nexus, copyright 1960

so much for that
posted by pyramid termite at 8:46 AM on January 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


If this was Dick himself I'd potentially maybe sortof care, but when estates and heirs start voicing opinions which seem likely to be colored by money-lust? It's not even directly named after it either. Maybe Google will want or decide to give them money or whatever, but I am highly, highly dubious that money should exchange hands over homage.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:46 AM on January 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


Ahh, "estates".

More accurately described as "money-grubbing heirs who have no particular talents of their own"
posted by aramaic at 8:47 AM on January 6, 2010 [38 favorites]


Sheesh, it's a phone. It's not like Google started making a new line of replicants and calling them 'Nexus'...

Yet.
posted by usonian at 8:48 AM on January 6, 2010 [35 favorites]


In response Google should change the name of the phone to Electric Sheep.
posted by mazola at 8:49 AM on January 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


These aren't the Droids they're looking for?
posted by zarq at 8:49 AM on January 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


It's a test designed to provoke a financial response.
posted by Babblesort at 8:49 AM on January 6, 2010 [75 favorites]


That's....dumb.

As for the phone: A year ago I would have been on fire. 3 months ago I would have cautiously optimistic. But with all the being-less-not-evil-all-the-time of Google, not to mention just this week having divested myself of all Google accounts, I'm not to excited. Funnel all my data (in both directions) through a corporation with expert data-mining expertise and a weakening will not to use it? Thanks but no thanks.
posted by DU at 8:49 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Plus, ughh his daughter is “shocked and dismayed”? Yes, I can see how it would be upsetting that your father's vast reaching cultural influence would live on in various aspects of society. Especially when there aren't royalties involved!

That I, Robot movie was golden, though, right?
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:50 AM on January 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about your phone.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:51 AM on January 6, 2010 [25 favorites]


They should be more worried when customers can start skinning them. Some sort of test will be required to tell one vendor's phone from another.
posted by jquinby at 8:52 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ummm I, Robot not so much a PK Dick joint. The Asimov estate may want a word with you.
posted by Babblesort at 8:52 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know what the Dick estate is complaining about, Rob Zombie is the Nexus One (and he wants more life fucker he ain't done yet).
posted by MikeMc at 8:53 AM on January 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


To be fair, if Lucas got paid out by Verizon, I can kind of see an argument that says that Dick's estate should be paid out as well. Frankly, I find it very confusing that George Lucas got even one red cent, as he didn't invent androids or droids, but there it is.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:53 AM on January 6, 2010


Google's new corporate motto, post legal shenanigans: Don't be a Dick.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:53 AM on January 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about your phone.

My phone? I'll tell you about my phone - *BANG*
posted by MikeMc at 8:54 AM on January 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


They don't need to be such Phillip K. Dicks about it.
posted by mazola at 8:54 AM on January 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


haveanicesummer: "That I, Robot movie was golden, though, right?"

Since the whole Dick/Nexus/Ire thing is stupid, I'm going to embrace this derail. Am I the only Asimov fan who really liked that movie? It kinda raped the pre-Empire timeline, but it was chock-full of Asimoviness. The Little Lost Robot and Robot Dreams references made me giddy. And [SPOILER ALERT] the resolution was the Zeroeth Law? Come on. Priceless.
posted by Plutor at 8:54 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


More accurately described as "money-grubbing heirs who have no particular talents of their own"

I really wouldn't refer to PKD's estate as that. I'm a pretty big PKD fan and I've seen them give their blessings out to much, much more potentially infringe-y projects (the PKD android built in his exact likeness, for instance,) but when the connection is just so blatantly clear, you have to do something. I'm pretty sure if Google named their phone the TMA-0 or the Atreides Phonosphere or something, the Clarke and Herbert estates would be equally incensed.
posted by griphus at 8:55 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, come on people. Google obviously stole the name from Dick. It's the first thing I thought of when I heard the name and I actually did wonder if they licensed it.

Further, I believe both the book and film refer to other models of the Nexus, like Nexus Five, the implication obviously being that the first replicants (androids) were Nexus One.

Yes, the Estate may not have a trademark case but for Google to deny Dick's work was not the inspiration for the name is clearly false and shameful.

i have right here in my house a copy of henry miller's nexus, copyright 1960

But they didn't name it Nexus. They named it Nexus One.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:56 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ummm I, Robot not so much a PK Dick joint. The Asimov estate may want a word with you.
posted by Babblesort


Facepalm city over here. If only there were some sort of Future Comments division of MeFi moderation which would have slapped my hand away from the keyboard moments before I made this mistake.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:57 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought it was not nearly as bad as it could have been, high praise for a Will Smith SF venture.
posted by Mister_A at 8:57 AM on January 6, 2010


I meant, deny it was the inspiration...
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:57 AM on January 6, 2010


I think they've got a case. Part of the coolness of the name (and so, the attractiveness of the phone) rests on its association with androids, and that association is only made in Dick's book. The book is well known, was the basis for a movie, etc.

But really, Google should have cleared this with the estate and made a token payment long before this point, or else chosen another name. "Nexus [number]" in the context of "Android" is clearly from the Blade Runner universe. It's like naming your phone "Protocol Droid" and not clearing it with Lucas. You might prevail in court, but why run the risk?
posted by zippy at 8:58 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Plutor - I enjoyed the movie and would have enjoyed it more if it were called Will Smith's Robot Action Movie (Inspired by the works of Isaac Asimov)
posted by griphus at 8:58 AM on January 6, 2010


Legal Theory question: Would Verizon have to license from Lucasfilm if they'd named it "'Droid" instead (i.e. with an apostrophe to indicate the "real" name is the non-trademarked "Android")?
posted by DU at 9:00 AM on January 6, 2010


Dammit Joe, I missed your reference. Feh.
posted by jquinby at 9:01 AM on January 6, 2010


I've obviously proved myself to be nothing of an Asimov expert, but part of my problem with Audi Present's I, Robot is probably routed in the fact that it was a movie called Hardwired, which was an unrelated murder mystery. They then attained the rights to Asimov's works and shoehorned the robots in. It was certainly better than it could have been, but also not nearly what I was hoping it might be.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:02 AM on January 6, 2010


If someone would clear "Electronic Sausage" with the Douglas Adams estate, I might finally break down and get one of those phone thingies.

I would also probably be interested in a "Marvin" model phone that complained about how it was being wasted making phone calls.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:03 AM on January 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ummm I, Robot not so much a PK Dick joint

The First Law of Robotics is: do not talk about the Laws of Robotics.

The Second Law of Robotics is: do not talk about the Laws of Robotics ...

From Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Meshugah Golem Fisticuffs Society."
posted by zippy at 9:03 AM on January 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


zippy - Wouldn't it be more efficient programming if the second law was "GOTO 10" ?
posted by griphus at 9:05 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the heirs are thinking "Gee, Google sure has a lot of money, and they released a product with a name referring to IP we own. Maybe we could get our hands on some of this Google money".

In a way, I don't really blame them. It is Google we're talking about, after all. If Google released a product based on one of my mildly amusing Metafilter comments, I would want some of that Google money too- there's lots of it.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:06 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ummm I, Robot not so much a PK Dick joint

a phillip k dick joint is something you smoke and then realize that you've been stoned all your life and have just stopped
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 AM on January 6, 2010 [49 favorites]


Metafilter: you've been stoned all your life and have just stopped
posted by jquinby at 9:08 AM on January 6, 2010


"'Android'? What's that?"
"You know what a iPhone is?"
"Of course!"
"Same thing."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:09 AM on January 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


nexus
noun
/ˈnek.səs/ n [C usually singular] formal
an important connection between the parts of a system or a group of things
posted by Flashman at 9:09 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


>Yes, the Estate may not have a trademark case but for Google to deny Dick's work was not the inspiration for the name is clearly false and shameful.

They're not denying PKD's worth. They just don't think they owe his estate money.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:09 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope they don't try to take away my Blade Runner shampoo!
posted by orme at 9:11 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, come on people. Google obviously stole the name from Dick. It's the first thing I thought of when I heard the name and I actually did wonder if they licensed it.

I even thought, "Nexus One? They got the series number wrong."
posted by KokuRyu at 9:13 AM on January 6, 2010


Count yourselves lucky it hasn't raised the dick of Philip K Ire - which, I am unreliably informed, is a monster.....
posted by MajorDundee at 9:14 AM on January 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


What about all those bands that name themselves after their favourite book, movie, character or whatever?

Why aren't they sued?

I don't think the family have much of a choice. The name may or may not have been inspired by Philip K Dick, but unless his family have a burning desire to move into consumer electronics, I fail to see the brand confusion here.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:14 AM on January 6, 2010


The Asimov estate is presently kicking itself that Isaac never penned a prequel called "I, Phone."
posted by felix betachat at 9:16 AM on January 6, 2010 [26 favorites]


Maybe they should rename it the BHA (Butt-Head Author)?
posted by milnak at 9:16 AM on January 6, 2010


They're not denying PKD's worth. They just don't think they owe his estate money.

If they admit that's the source of the name--and I think it's ridiculous to suggest it isn't--then what they're saying is that without that inspiration, the name would be something else. Further, that being the source, they're admitting that there's cache attached to the name. They wouldn't, for example, name their product after a robot in... I dunno, Battlefield Earth (if there are robots in it, I don't know) because it wouldn't be cool. And, the logic follows that the reason it has cache is because Dick did it right. The chain of reasoning leads to "Our product has a cool name because someone else did work. We should compensate him."

Yes, legally their may be no case. But Google should have went to them in the first place. Do no evil, my ass!

The reason they didn't, imo, is because there was the possibility that the Dick Estate would have said no. Then, they couldn't name it that because going to the estate would be an admission of the source. By naming the phone without going to them, they've thrown the burden of proof onto the estate even though, I suspect, in their hearts, they know why they're calling the phone that. Again, do no evil, my ass!

What about all those bands that name themselves after their favourite book, movie, character or whatever?

Why aren't they sued?


A number of them have been.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:16 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nexus 2-in-1?
posted by chunking express at 9:17 AM on January 6, 2010


His heirs should simply abide until Google actually does market replicants, and then they get get some sweet licensing deals. That won't be too far off. Just after the Google Zoom Electric Car and before the Google Unicron World Destructor. At this rate, it's four years away.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 AM on January 6, 2010


It's about right. Five more generations before the Google becomes aware and their devices start poking your eyes into your brain.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:19 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since infringing on copyrights is the same as stealing, why don't they just charge google with theft? I figure that with one count for each phone, Eric Schmidt is in for some serious jail time.
posted by mullingitover at 9:19 AM on January 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Cachet" is the word you are looking for.

Also Sean Young was way hot in that movie.

That is all.
posted by Aquaman at 9:20 AM on January 6, 2010


Oh, come on people. Google obviously stole the name from Dick. It's the first thing I thought of when I heard the name and I actually did wonder if they licensed it.

"It was the first thing some internet nerd thought of" is not really a legal basis for a lawsuit. And as an internet nerd myself as well as having read both the short story and the book AND seen the movie (to the extent that it is possible actually SEE the movie), it is not the first thing I thought of. I actually thought of shampoo first, so I guess Google also owes the estate of Vidal Sassoon.
posted by DU at 9:20 AM on January 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I suspect a higher godhead may bear a resemblence to VALIS.

Nexus was a word in the english language long before PKD used it, so this suit is a bit much.

Great author though. Great work, and far preferable to the latest phone of the minute.
posted by Hickeystudio at 9:20 AM on January 6, 2010


I was pleased to see that Google opted to use a name that evoked the Blade Runner universe. I thought it was a huge mistake on their part to not use the name of the HTC phone as it sold in Europe when they brought it over to the States to put their new OS on it and sell as the G1. It was called the Dream.

Google could have had a phone called the "Android Dream", and opted to change it.

*sighs*

Still, following on Motorola's lead of paying Lucas for "Droid" they Google should have probably given the official nod to both PKD (and Rob Zombie who, as MikeMc pointed out, is where the real infringement lay).
posted by quin at 9:24 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It was the first thing some internet nerd thought of" is not really a legal basis for a lawsuit.

Except internet nerds are the target fucking market, which is why they went with the name. :)

And as I've said, I don't think they have a legal case. Doesn't mean Google shouldn't do the right thing, morally. Especially given their ridiculous motto.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:26 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


You want ire? Just wait until the Hubbard family finds out what the Scientologists have been doing with his works!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:27 AM on January 6, 2010


Eh, my mp3s are still labelled "Green Jell-o".
posted by Eideteker at 9:28 AM on January 6, 2010


I think they've got a case. Part of the coolness of the name (and so, the attractiveness of the phone) rests on its association with androids, and that association is only made in Dick's book. The book is well known, was the basis for a movie, etc.

See, I liked PKD's stories but when I heard they were naming it Nexus, I immediately thought of tax law because the company I used to work for had a legal department that beat that into us. Then I thought of the standard definition:

Main Entry: nex·us
Pronunciation: \ˈnek-səs\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural nex·us·es \-sə-səz\ or nex·us \-səs, -ˌsüs\
Etymology: Latin, from nectere to bind
Date: 1663
1 : connection, link; also : a causal link
2 : a connected group or series
3 : center, focus

The estate of PKD should really focus its efforts on making money by selling story rights so that Hollywood can make shitty adaptations.
posted by birdherder at 9:28 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The estate is required to defend the IP. Failure to do so opens the door, legally, to greater abuse by others and eventual loss of ownership of trademarks, etc. They may be tickled pink but cannot be in public.

Haven't we covered this sort of thing before in the blue?
posted by jdfan at 9:29 AM on January 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


As a dueling anecdote, I enjoy scifi, and am familiar with Electric Sheep and Bladerunner, and never noticed the alleged connection between the name of the phone and the name of the fictional robots until this post went up. I'm not a PKD expert thought, though, nor do I spend much time thinking about his works on a daily basis.

That said, the PKD heirs need to step it up.
posted by BeerFilter at 9:30 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm surprised that the estate of Albertus Magnus or the Catholic Church hasn't been requesting proper credit for the term "android" since 1270. Lucas can claim to have "invented" the term "droid" all he wants, but he had nothing without Saint Albert the Great. Though "Nexus One" does invoke more of PKD than if the phone was simply named "Nexus."

Eh, my mp3s are still labelled "Green Jell-o".

Spreading the copyright theft around as widely as possible, how noble of you. HAMBURGER
posted by filthy light thief at 9:32 AM on January 6, 2010


>If they admit that's the source of the name--and I think it's ridiculous to suggest it isn't--then what they're saying is that without that inspiration, the name would be something else.

So what? You don't have a moral right to someone else's work because you inspired them. Even less so if your dad did.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:34 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, come on people. Google obviously stole the name from Dick.

Culture is one of those things that has to be shared to work. Having to pay for every single reference to a character or object in any book, movie or song would pretty much eviscerate it.
posted by prak at 9:39 AM on January 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


A Google spokesman said, "Google does not recall stealing the name Nexus from Mr. Dick. Furthermore, 2001: A Space Odyssey Phone was deemed too long and completely devoid of subliminal sex."
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:39 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


What about all those bands that name themselves after their favourite book, movie, character or whatever?

Raid the archives. Supertramp is in the PD. Or was, trademarked now.
posted by stbalbach at 9:40 AM on January 6, 2010


"but when the connection is just so blatantly clear, you have to do something." [....] "Google stole it..."

Please don't use words like "steal" so lightly. Using a few words in a book doesn't give you absolute ownership over them and certainly doesn't give you a trademark on them. I don't see why you legally or morally feel that PKD's estate deserves even one penny from Google.

Your argument is extremely tenuous - something like "Nexus Six is a model of replicant in PKD's book, and PKD wrote about androids in other books, and Google's Nexus One is an Android". Neither law, custom nor ethics supports your claim.

Sure, I'd believe that someone on Google's staff made the PKD hommage with this name, and now the company as a whole isn't fessing up to it - simply because they're being made legal threats. It's pretty likely that the company doesn't "officially" know that someone was inspired by PKD and so "the company" is telling the truth.

(Disclaimer: I worked for Google until a few months ago...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:41 AM on January 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


The estate is required to defend the IP.

That might, might apply here if the PKD estate had a trademark for the term "Nexus". Which it appears they do not.
posted by aramaic at 9:42 AM on January 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


This is bullshit. Google knows exactly what it's doing, by attaching their
{sexy, walled garden, silicon teat : pick one} smartphone to the Nexus #Whatever, Android idea/name pairing association, PKD came up with. Some geekling in marketing started with the 'ooh, cool idea' name, ran it past an IP drone in legal, and and the IP drone said "Yup, let's model it":

* We ask PKD's estate and they say no.
-> We lose.

* We eat the cookies before asking for permission, release the "ripped off name" phone and then ask PKD's estate.
-> Scenarios:
1) PKD estate doesn't care.
-> We win.

2) They get pissy and ask for money. It goes to court.
a) Court rules in google's favor:
-> We win. Unlikely but possible.
b) Court ruled in PKD estate favor, specifying a reasonable amount of money for damages. -> We pay out, we get what we want.
-> We win.

---------

Some people don't realize "Don't Be Evil" is a marketing phrase, the public face of the world's most successful and clever advertising company. Technically, their motto is "Maximize Shareholder Revenue."
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:42 AM on January 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


>That might, might apply here if the PKD estate had a trademark for the term "Nexus". Which it appears they do not.

And if Google was making a synthetic human being. Which it appears they are not.

At least, not by that name.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:46 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does Google pay to use the name Google? I'm pretty sure the answer to that is no. Is the PKD estate claiming the same kind of "homage rights"?
posted by effwerd at 9:51 AM on January 6, 2010


I want more battery life... fucker.
posted by Ratio at 9:51 AM on January 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


It always fascinates me how these infringement suits bring out all kinds of discussion about who is morally right or wrong. The thing is, as mentioned above by jdfan, is that 99.99999% of the time these suits have nothing to do with morality. Instead it has everything to do with establishing precedent. See, if the estate of PKD didn't go after Google for this, then it hampers their ability to protect their ipr in the future. To say it slightly differently, the fact that there is an infringement suit says *nothing* about how the estate actually feels about Google's actions. They may think its cool, they may think its an affront, or may not care one way or another. But, the lawyers know that you can't let things like this slide by, not because they actually care about this particular case, it's because that in order to protect the ipr, you have to show that your willing to protect ipr.
Ok, back at it you guys, I just realized I haven't finished my bag of popcorn yet.
posted by forforf at 9:56 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do Androids... is the work being harmed by Google's trademark dilution. The concept of a series of androids numerically named Nexus is only associated with that work. A product called Nexus One (implying a series of numbered editions) running an operating system called Android is close enough to confuse the customer.
posted by jdfan at 9:57 AM on January 6, 2010


> See, if the estate of PKD didn't go after Google for this, then it hampers their ability to protect their ipr in the future.

IF it's a trademark issue, which it doesn't appear to be. (This has been bubbling for weeks and I've yet to see a trademark claim by the Dick estate.)

What seems to be happening is that the Dick estate is lawyering up over a TWO WORD excerpt from a book. FSM help us all if we've come to that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:59 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, if we are looking for *moral* or *ethical* arguments, then the words of PKD should be in the public domain by now.
posted by DU at 10:02 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess for precedent we have have to find out if William Gibson went after anyone for their use of the term Microsoft.
posted by quin at 10:04 AM on January 6, 2010


This is bullshit. Google knows exactly what it's doing

Do you really think that people are going to buy the phone because of the name? Or, probably more importantly for a claim of trademark infringement, is anyone less likely to buy a Philip K. Dick product because of Google's reference to it?

My line, like a number of other people in this thread, is also fairly different when it come to rewarding a creator and not just their heirs. A claim to a right to something purely because of an accident of birth has never sat quite right to me.
posted by prak at 10:05 AM on January 6, 2010


See, if the estate of PKD didn't go after Google for this, then it hampers their ability to protect their ipr in the future.

While I was looking up the publication date for the original short story, I came across this by MeFi's own John Scalzi.

The book is called "The Android's Dream" and it has pictures of sheep on the cover. I see no mention of a lawsuit. Unless the PKD estate OK'd this, I'd say their "if we don't whack all the moles we are dead" strategy is already over.
posted by DU at 10:07 AM on January 6, 2010


And as I've said, I don't think they have a legal case. Doesn't mean Google shouldn't do the right thing, morally.

The right thing morally being refusing to pay litigious arseholes who want paying anytime somebody uses a word that their dead relatives happened to once use in a novel?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:08 AM on January 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


Of all literary genres, in my experience, science fiction writers bite concepts and ideas from other science fiction writers the most (fantasy a close second). The estate probably wouldn't be suing sci-fi joe shmoe for using the Nexus [number] trope elsewhere. This is just a deep-pockets thing, I think.

Somehow, however, they seem to be doing this all wrong.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:09 AM on January 6, 2010


Do Androids... is the work being harmed by Google's trademark dilution. The concept of a series of androids numerically named Nexus is only associated with that work. A product called Nexus One (implying a series of numbered editions) running an operating system called Android is close enough to confuse the customer.
posted by jdfan


I bought the Nexus One because I thought it was a new P.K.D. book... turns out it's some phone! BETRAYED! GOOGLE OMG YOU SAID YOU WEREN'T EVIL BUT YOU'RE A CORPORATION AND YOU MAKE MONEY! ET TU ERIC SCHMIDT!
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:09 AM on January 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Ooh, I might have misspoke, Gibson appears to have used the word after the founding. Nevermind then.
posted by quin at 10:11 AM on January 6, 2010


Part of the reason for royalties to exist, societally, would be to enable the creation of more works from said artist. I don't think P.K.D.'s going to be putting out anymore books, so as a society we should be less concerned with perpetually paying his illustrious estate.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:13 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


>I don't think P.K.D.'s going to be putting out anymore books, so as a society we should be less concerned with perpetually paying his illustrious estate.

You're just saying that 'cause you're not a Dick.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:20 AM on January 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


The thing is, as mentioned above by jdfan, is that 99.99999% of the time these suits have nothing to do with morality. Instead it has everything to do with establishing precedent. See, if the estate of PKD didn't go after Google for this, then it hampers their ability to protect their ipr in the future.

Precedent cuts both ways. If Google had/does pay them it hampers everyone's ability to make obscure references to anything created in the last 80 years. Possibly even less obvious ones. That would, quite frankly, leave us all poorer.
posted by prak at 10:20 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since when is it "theft" to make a literary reference?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:21 AM on January 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Stanley Kubrick's estate reportedly super irate about 1963 Philip K. Dick novel Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:21 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clearly what they need to do here is call this thing the Sexus Ranger. Throw Chaykin a little dough, everybody's happy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:22 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well at least they aren't writing crappy "sequels".
posted by Artw at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2010


Things like this remind me of when I was six. My brother and I snuck into an empty building through a basement window to play doctor.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:40 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


My brother and I snuck into an empty building through a basement window to play doctor.

This is probably the verbatim argument the PKD (or possible Google) lawyers are going to use when the case comes before the Supreme Court.
posted by DU at 10:47 AM on January 6, 2010


Also, if we are looking for *moral* or *ethical* arguments, then the words of PKD should be in the public domain by now.

Because why? He's only been dead since 1982. The ethical argument that copyright should cease with death isn't going to fly with many people.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:49 AM on January 6, 2010


I've seen Blade Runner multiple times, wrote a paper or two on it in college, generally think it's a mighty fine movie, but not once during the runup to the Nexus One launch did I think the phone's name might be connected to Dick's writing. I can't imagine my experience is too far from the ordinary, and I'm fairly nerdy. Out of the general consumer public, I would imagine it's, at most, .1% of consumers who would have connected the two things, and roughly 0% who might be confused about whether they're buying a cell phone or a replicant. This lawsuit is pretty dumb.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:52 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


If they did want to ride on Bladerunner's coattails, it's very bold of them to start numbering at Nexus One. Hey, I watched the movie and I wouldn't want any Nexus model 'till at LEAST Seven.

And the designers of the Six models better have good security on their labs.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:55 AM on January 6, 2010


Having reflected on this for approximately two seconds, it seems that jdfan is correct here and all of the groaning and moaning is useless. It's a lawyers' game, not some kind of debate about right or wrong.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:56 AM on January 6, 2010


... Philip K. Dick novel Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb.

I'm actually reading this book right now. According to the notes in the back of my copy, the title came from his publisher. His choices for the title were, "In Earth's Diurnal Course" or "A Terran Odyssey".
posted by chunking express at 10:59 AM on January 6, 2010


Well, personally I'd drop the subtitle, but I think this is one of those cases where an editors instincts were good, given the alternatives...
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on January 6, 2010


Things like this remind me of when I was six. My brother and I snuck into an empty building through a basement window to play doctor.

Remember the bush outside your window with the spider in it? Green body, orange legs... you watched her build a web all summer.

One day there was an egg in the web.

After a while, the egg hatched and hundreds of baby spiders came out and ate her.
posted by juv3nal at 11:10 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The chain of reasoning leads to "Our product has a cool name because someone else did work. We should compensate him."

But I would say, "Google's product has a cool name because a Google employee did the creative work of making a cool literary reference." The cleverness of naming an Android phone "Nexus" is Google's cleverness, not PKD's cleverness.

Otherwise, we can play the same game and prove that all of PKD's cool ideas are really "stolen" and remixed from other people. He didn't invent the word "Nexus." Or the concept of androids. Or the freaking English language.
posted by straight at 11:17 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


They've.... sued over things... you people wouldn't believe...
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on January 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


"You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a cellphone, Isa, it’s a smartphone. You reach down, you flip the smartphone over on its back, Isa. The smartphone lays on its back, its touchscreen baking in the hot sun, vibrating and trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that, Isa?"

"I didn't get a check."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:19 AM on January 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


After a while, the egg hatched and hundreds of baby spiders came out and ate her.

In my dream it was a unicorn that laid the eggs.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:28 AM on January 6, 2010


So, let me get this straight. The thought process that some of you, and Ms. Dick, are going through:
  1. Androids in PKD's book had a model name of Nexus, specifically Nexus 6, with a couple of references to the obsolete Nexus 5.
  2. From that, you imagine that a Nexus 1 must have existed.
  3. Google's name for their OS is Android;
  4. Google's name for their first self-made phone is the Nexus One.
  5. Therefore, Google owes PKD money for infringing something he never actually wrote.
Whatever you people are smoking, I want some.
posted by Malor at 11:32 AM on January 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Perhaps someone should also talk to the maker of these.
posted by mindless progress at 11:32 AM on January 6, 2010


Hardcore Poser: "And the designers of the Six models better have good security on their labs."

Do Android phones have shutdown sounds? I would totally use that "I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate" speech for it.

Also, whatever happened to the practice of just making up words for products? I remember noticing that at some point in time car manufacturers stopped using "Adventurer", "Spirit", Gremlin" and the likes as names and started inventing fantasy words (with sometimes disastrous results, granted).

Why couldn't they just think up a new word, or even go through the vast vocabulary of the English language looking for words with positive connotations that might not have strong ties to existing intellectual property?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 11:34 AM on January 6, 2010


So, does this mean that Deckard was a cellphone all along?
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:35 AM on January 6, 2010


>Why couldn't they just think up a new word, or even go through the vast vocabulary of the English language looking for words with positive connotations that might not have strong ties to existing intellectual property?

Ooh! A forum game. Why do we never do those here?

OK, give me one.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:36 AM on January 6, 2010


. . . more importantly for a claim of trademark infringement, is anyone less likely to buy a Philip K. Dick product because of Google's reference to it . . .

Actually, that wouldn't be the issue in the crazed alternate universe in which this was actually a legal issue. If the estate had enforceable rights, such as a trademark, in the word "Nexus", and if those rights were applicable to cell phone sales -- both of which appear to be false and both of which would be prerequisites to any suit here, at least under the Lanham Act -- one inquiry could be whether Google gained any sales from confusing use of the Dick Estate's mark, whether or not the Dick estate lost any sales. The claim is called palming off and it involves unfairly trading on the business goodwill of a party without compensation. Here, of course, Google is doing no such thing, but it's important to understand what the issues would be, if there were issues.
posted by The Bellman at 11:42 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


>... one inquiry could be whether Google gained any sales from confusing use of the Dick Estate's mark, whether or not the Dick estate lost any sales.

This is true. Also stupid.

If no loss was incurred, where's the harm?

Also, how do you determine how much good will was the result of Dick's work vs. Sassoon's vs. it's just a cool-sounding term?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:56 AM on January 6, 2010


Also, how do you determine how much good will was the result of Dick's work vs. Sassoon's vs. it's just a cool-sounding term?

Nex(x)us shampoo is not actually made by Vidal Sassoon therefore you stole that idea from me therefore fork over the $$$.
posted by DU at 11:59 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wasn't paying attention. Did Google just announce that they're selling a fully functional android that doubles as a phone?

In that case, they could at least come up with their own name or pay a licensing fee. I mean, yes, Dick's robots were fictional, but I don't think Disney would like it if I were to sell Ratatouille Cheese.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:01 PM on January 6, 2010


To clarify:

1. Google is in the right because they're not evil.

2. This is probably all just a manifestation of some Vast Alien Living Intelligence System that we could never comprehend anyway.

3. Henry Miller's NEXUS is a genuinely beautiful thing, so much so that I felt compelled to file the following comment just the other day:

In particular, the conclusion of NEXUS comes to mind, wherein a friend tries to engage Miller in helping him woo a young woman he's got the hots for. As I remember it, Miller finally just tells the guy to shut the fuck up and proceeds to tell him (for a few pages) what LOVE really is:

It's something that once felt will NEVER go away; it's a permanent pleasure/affliction even if its "object" has never returned it, perhaps never even known that you felt it for her/him; it's something that changes you fundamentally, forever, a strange and mystical suffering that was never necessary but you could never have known that if you hadn't first suffered it; it's the Rosy Crucifixion.


Re-posted here because the original had an annoying little typo in it which was
getting under my skn.
posted by philip-random at 12:04 PM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


ummm ... "skin".
posted by philip-random at 12:05 PM on January 6, 2010


If no loss was incurred, where's the harm?

It's unfair for your company to benefit from (and potentially do damage to) the established name and marketing presence of another entity. This is why you can't use, say, Mickey Mouse in the logo for your travel agency business, even though you aren't competing with Disney and they aren't losing sales to your business because you're in different industries.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:09 PM on January 6, 2010


Nex(x)us shampoo is not actually made by Vidal Sassoon therefore you stole that idea from me therefore fork over the $$$.

And yet I had the mental association that it was. Obviously, they're liable for "palming off" Sassoon's "goodwill." Fortunately for you, they have much deeper pockets than I.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:11 PM on January 6, 2010


>: Culture is one of those things that has to be shared to work. Having to pay for every single reference to a character or object in any book, movie or song would pretty much eviscerate it.

This.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:36 PM on January 6, 2010


“If Google released a product based on one of my mildly amusing Metafilter comments, I would want some of that Google money too- there's lots of it.”

GooglePhone: it vibrates?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:44 PM on January 6, 2010


Having reflected on this for approximately two seconds, it seems that jdfan is correct here and all of the groaning and moaning is useless.

I believe jdfan is asserting that the PKD estate has some kind of trademark claim to the concept of an android product line (Nexus 1) that was not articulated in the copyrighted work in question, and does not have any trademarks or patents associated with it. It's a confused claim that has no basis in intellectual property law, whatsoever.
posted by effwerd at 12:53 PM on January 6, 2010


Google obviously stole the name from Dick.

Implants. They're not Dick's memories, they're somebody else's. They're Google's nieces.
posted by panboi at 12:57 PM on January 6, 2010


Guess I won't be calling my band the Perky Pats after all.
posted by philip-random at 1:27 PM on January 6, 2010


I love PKD, but, seriously, fuck his estate and fuck the copyright system. I read some article about how his kids basically make a living from being dicks, denying people the opportunity to do things with his work, and make money off something they never contributed to. And yet they thought PAYCHECK was a totally alright movie, and totally gave it their go-ahead. FUCKING PAYCHECK.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:39 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read some article about how his kids basically make a living from being dicks

If I had kids, I would be delighted if they could make a living from being random.
posted by philip-random at 1:44 PM on January 6, 2010


> Because why? He's only been dead since 1982. The ethical argument that copyright should cease with death isn't going to fly with many people.
The Statute of Anne [UK, 1709] and the Copyright Act of 1790 [USA] both provided for an initial term of 14 years, renewable once by living authors for an additional 14 years, for works [published after the act became law].
Not only does that argument fly, but I believe it's just gone into orbit.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 2:13 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying the law or lawyers are right, just that in this increasingly litigious age, lawyers seem to think it's necessary to protect the mere thought of a fart wafting by something that might be remotely construed as infringing on trademark or intellectual property.

In all likelihood, it's not a tenable case. But you never can tell these days.
posted by jdfan at 2:36 PM on January 6, 2010


sidhedevil "Because why? He's only been dead since 1982. The ethical argument that copyright should cease with death isn't going to fly with many people."

What exactly is ethical or moral about censoring the general public's speech so you can make a living collecting rents from something you had no part in?
posted by mullingitover at 2:38 PM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


also, for the estate not to react is implied approval. which I'm sure means something.
posted by jdfan at 2:53 PM on January 6, 2010


> The Statute of Anne [UK, 1709] and the Copyright Act of 1790 [USA] both provided for an initial term of 14 years, renewable once by living authors for an additional 14 years...

Mimimalist though I am, I think that if we must have Intellectual Monopolies they should be tied to the date of creation, rather than the life of the author. Among other reasons, it preserves the earning potential of elderly authors.

>also, for the estate not to react is implied approval. which I'm sure means something.

It it was a trademark issue, then possibly. That doesn't appear to be the case here.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:07 PM on January 6, 2010


Minimalist. (Spellcheck, wherefor art thou?)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:08 PM on January 6, 2010


ChurchHatesTucker: "Minimalist. (Spellcheck, wherefor art thou?)"

Wherefore.
Also, "wherefore" means "why" and not "where".

posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:36 PM on January 6, 2010


Minimalist though I am, I think that if we must have Intellectual Monopolies they should be tied to the date of creation, rather than the life of the author. Among other reasons, it preserves the earning potential of elderly authors.


I guess I don't get this argument. I mean, you basically implied that the following goes through the head of an elderly author, "I earn $X per year per book. I don't write books for less than $10X so I'm just going to stop writing 10 years before I die because I'll only be making $9X or less on them." Is that the idea? It seems that it would only apply to authors who've seen enough success already that they don't need or want the money for those 10 years. So it would only apply to the very successful. I dislike the notion that copyright law is yet another law that reinforces the flow of money to the already-wealthy.
posted by breath at 3:56 PM on January 6, 2010


PontifexPrimus: "Why couldn't they just think up a new word, or even go through the vast vocabulary of the English language looking for words with positive connotations that might not have strong ties to existing intellectual property?"

Please god no; don't let a marketing committee loose on it. That's how you get car names like GM's Hywire and the Isuzu VehiCROSS, or music players like 'TrekStor i.Beat.blaxx.' Hellish names come from marketers who just can't leave a good word unmuddled.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:57 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


jdfan: also, for the estate not to react is implied approval. which I'm sure means something.

That would be true if PKD had trademarked 'Nexus One' because trademarks must be defended to remain valid. This is a matter of copyright, and there's no requirement for a copyright holder to defend it in order to keep it.

This is textbook frivilous litigation: no trademark on the name means no case, which means they're just fishing for money. That money would be better spent on lottery tickets, which at least might go toward funding schools, instead of buying some lawyers new swimming pools.
posted by mullingitover at 3:58 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


For those of you who are talking about copyright -- this has absolutely nothing to do with copyright. You can't copyright a name. Never. Can't be done.

This is a matter of trademark. A completely different concept. Trademark has to do with business-related uses of a name -- e.g. why you can't open a hamburger restaurant called "MacDonald's", but would almost certainly have no problem opening "MacDonald's Truck Repair" -- although you probably don't want to have a clown mascot for it.

Whether PKD's estate has any legal standing depends on a lot of things. It does seem a very tenuous case -- unless they have, for example, essentially trademarked "Nexus-Line Androids". If that is the case, if someone starts selling a product called a "Nexus One Droid", they might sit up and say, "Hey!"

Basically, you could call any unrelated product a "Nexus One" ... but selling a Nexus One "Droid" might just tip it over into clown mascot territory.
posted by kyrademon at 4:00 PM on January 6, 2010


(If, as mullingitover says, there is no trademark, then s/he is right, there is no case, period, and it is a frivolous lawsuit. You *cannot* copyright a name. If I want to sell a series of phones called "mullingitovers", there's no legal case unless that's trademarked.)
posted by kyrademon at 4:02 PM on January 6, 2010


>Wherefore.

I giv up.

> I mean, you basically implied that the following goes through the head of an elderly author, "I earn $X per year per book. I don't write books for less than $10X so I'm just going to stop writing 10 years before I die because I'll only be making $9X or less on them." Is that the idea?

Think of it more like incentivizing an author who was on his deathbed. Plus, it's easier to do the math from a registered copyright date than to track down an author to see if he's still fogging mirrors.

Mind you, it should be a short term in the first place. The idea that modern authors need longer protections than colonial ones is ludicrous.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:06 PM on January 6, 2010


Fuck those authors and their stupid creating things and shit.
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on January 6, 2010


Also, I think people are missing another key point here. This isn't about a worry that this will take business away from PKD's books because someone will buy a phone by mistake. It's a matter of advertising usage and licensing.

For example, let as say I start selling a product called "Neil Patrick Harris Burgers". No one is going to buy one thinking it's a movie, so I should have no problems with trademark, right?

No. The argument is that I'm implying that Neil Patrick Harris is an official sponsor of these burgers, when in fact he has nothing to do with them. I am using his (trademarked) name to sell my products, but he is getting nothing for it. I have not purchased a license to do so.

The same argument can be made for a fictional creation -- "Dr. Horrible Burgers", for example. They are associated with that show, NPH, the Whedons, etc.

So, the argument would be that by calling a product -- any product -- a "Nexus One Droid", they are using Philip K Dick's work to promote their products, therefore implying that the PKD estate approved of it, had something to do with it, etc.

It's a reasonable argument; several people in this thread alone admitted to wondering if they had paid for a license to use the name, and if it had been approved.

Again, this really only matters if the name is trademarked. But those of you who are saying the whole concept is frivolous and ridiculous ... well, I've got some tasty Dr. Horrible Burgers to sell you. I'm sure that the makers of the show won't mind my associating my product with them. They have extra strychnine!
posted by kyrademon at 4:26 PM on January 6, 2010


Whatever you do, don't ask the phone about its mother. Or whether you can inspect its dressing room for holes. Definitely don't add "JF Sebastian" to your friends list and then make a video call. And whatever you do, avoid purchasing an extended battery. That can lead to ... difficulties.
posted by zippy at 4:35 PM on January 6, 2010


kyrademon: "So, the argument would be that by calling a product -- any product -- a 'Nexus One Droid', they are using Philip K Dick's work to promote their products, therefore implying that the PKD estate approved of it, had something to do with it, etc."

There's no such thing as a Nexus One Droid, and while the Nexus One uses an operating system called Android it's still not an android. Anyway we're saying the same thing, it's not trademarked and it would be like Disney suing Apple because hey, Disney made a movie with apples in it so Apple should pay up because people might be confused.

Artw: "Fuck those authors and their stupid creating things and shit."

You're a little late, the topic is "Fuck those authors money-grubbing kids and their stupid failure to create anything themselves and instead lawyer up over dumb shit."
posted by mullingitover at 4:44 PM on January 6, 2010


To be fair they have about as much chance of success as the Ron Paul style copyright rollback.
posted by Artw at 4:49 PM on January 6, 2010


>For example, let as say I start selling a product called "Neil Patrick Harris Burgers". No one is going to buy one thinking it's a movie, so I should have no problems with trademark, right?

You realize that in Pittsburgh you can get a "Rothlisburger?"

Heck, when I was a lad I could go to the Crown Station (over by Crown Books) and get a Crown Cola. Without a lawyer!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:54 PM on January 6, 2010


Think of it more like incentivizing an author who was on his deathbed.

I guess I do actually understand the argument, but think it's really macabre. I mean, really, deathbed incentives?

Plus, it's easier to do the math from a registered copyright date than to track down an author to see if he's still fogging mirrors.

You kinda have to do that anyway with the current system because it's death + N years. So you can't just do a binary dead/alive check, you have to get the death certificate with date. But yes I agree that it would be less burdensome in a hypothetical system that was "date of publication + N years". Such a system would be a definite improvement.
posted by breath at 4:56 PM on January 6, 2010


>I guess I do actually understand the argument, but think it's really macabre. I mean, really, deathbed incentives?

Well, think of it as not providing a disincentive to buying a work from an elderly writer.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:09 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


they can sue when the Director's Cut of the phone comes out...
posted by kuppajava at 5:15 PM on January 6, 2010


The phone that rings twice as loudly rings half as long.
posted by bingo at 5:42 PM on January 6, 2010


Oh but so very loudly...
posted by Artw at 5:43 PM on January 6, 2010


Well, think of it as not providing a disincentive to buying a work from an elderly writer.

Well said.
posted by breath at 5:55 PM on January 6, 2010


>The phone that rings twice as loudly rings half as long.

>Oh but so very loudly...

>I want more battery life... fucker.

Hey! We're risking a lawsuit, here!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:56 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Artw: "To be fair they have about as much chance of success as the Ron Paul style copyright rollback."

Google rent-seeking behavior!
posted by mullingitover at 5:57 PM on January 6, 2010


Google has its "Android system, and now they are naming a phone 'Nexus One,'" she said. "It's not lost on the people who are somewhat familiar with this novel."

Ummm, as someone that has the book and about 6 different versions of the movie, not to mention having seen the movie about 384 times by now (it's maybe my favorite movie of all time), I will go on the record as having made no connection.

So, to me at least, in a trademark dispute where the Dick Estate (and let's just start there by saying it's not the best plaintiff's name) must show a likelihood of confusion, this is not a strong case.
posted by Muddler at 5:57 PM on January 6, 2010


"Heck, when I was a lad I could go to the Crown Station (over by Crown Books) and get a Crown Cola. Without a lawyer!"

Yes, and? All perfectly legal, and nothing to do with what I was talking about. See my earlier comment regarding McDonald's.
posted by kyrademon at 6:10 PM on January 6, 2010


Muddler: "So, to me at least, in a trademark dispute where the Dick Estate (and let's just start there by saying it's not the best plaintiff's name) must show a likelihood of confusion, this is not a strong case."

Also, having a tradmark is a good start if you're going to file a trademark suit. Imagine the precedent it would set if every character in a fictional work was trademarked by default, retroactively? The next lawsuit would be a crippling one for Apple, which would be sued by Disney because there was an apple in Snow White.
posted by mullingitover at 6:16 PM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


>Yes, and? All perfectly legal, and nothing to do with what I was talking about. See my earlier comment regarding McDonald's.

I see your M(a)cDonalds and raise you a Rothlisburger.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:22 PM on January 6, 2010


I am starting to admire the insight and predictive abilities of the Human 'PKD'. As it stands now, Humans currently believe:

The moral rights of Authors should die with them.

On the other hand, Corporations, being 1) people, 2) psychotic, and 3) immortal, are free to do whatever they want, subject to being forced by courts to paying token fines to injured parties when they're caught out. (And this only after emotionally and financially draining court battles.)

Next it's going to be some crazy shit like the UK using 1984 as a "how-to", or those telecommunication satellites that Arthur C. Clark dreamed up.

I am so lucky I'm only visiting this planet; back home search and telecommunications are run as the non-profit utilities that they are, whereas after a bit of dicking around we decided that basic 'human' needs like like art, porn, music, and science fiction should be be done by dedicated individuals, because, Dude, having the government running that stuff? That didn't work out at all.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:35 PM on January 6, 2010


"I see your M(a)cDonalds and raise you a Ro[e]thlisburger."

Just because someone can sue, doesn't mean they always do. And there are degrees of infringement, which are recognized by the law. A lot of celebrities don't really care if their name is on a sandwich in a diner somewhere, but would have a big problem if someone founded a "Johnny Depp's Hamburgers" franchise without asking. In fact, Ben Roethlisberger has a line called "Big Ben's BBQ" sauce and I bet he would call a lawyer if someone selse started selling "Big Ben's Steak Sauce".

Look, Crown Cola and Crown Books can both have crowns in their logo. But if Crown Books uses a particular iconic crown design that's been trademarked by Crown Cola, they're probably going to get sued.

This isn't a bizarre law.

You can argue that a "Nexus One Droid", even if trademarked, isn't enough of an infringement to be a lawsuit with merit, or you can argue that trademark should have a nonrenewable expiration date, but I'm frankly not sure why you're arguing that trademark law doesn't (or shouldn't) exist because Peppi's sells a Roethlisburger and the guy it's named after doesn't care.
posted by kyrademon at 8:06 PM on January 6, 2010


This claim that the family should have been consulted and paid off is idiotic and is going to be one of my go to cases of why the current strip mining of the public domain is such a bad thing. The Dick heirs should be happy that their father's work is so influential and not making some quasi trademark/copyright claim in hopes of extending their control over culture.

"when the connection is just so blatantly clear, you have to do something. "

I suggest getting a warm fuzzy feeling that your father's work is so influential that people are referencing 40 years later and 25 years after he died and then getting on with your life.

"But really, Google should have cleared this with the estate and made a token payment long before this point, or else chosen another name. 'Nexus [number]' in the context of 'Android' is clearly from the Blade Runner universe. It's like naming your phone 'Protocol Droid' and not clearing it with Lucas. You might prevail in court, but why run the risk?"

Because paying off the family is like paying Dane-geld and you'll never get rid of the wankers.
posted by Mitheral at 8:06 PM on January 6, 2010


I've seen Blade Runner multiple times... but not once during the runup to the Nexus One launch did I think the phone's name might be connected to Dick's writing. --Greg Nog

Yes, but now you think of it. All the Blade Runner fans will think of it. What a cool association to have for your product. What a wonderful, self-promoting gift the PK Dick family has handed to Google.
posted by eye of newt at 8:48 PM on January 6, 2010


If anything, the phone will generate more sales of the book/movie. I'd say it's win-win.
posted by ODiV at 9:08 PM on January 6, 2010


Well, if anyone reading this obtains a Google Nexus can they please post a youtube vid of their device playing scenes from the "Blade Runner" movie?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:11 PM on January 6, 2010


Google should call it the Pris.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 3:41 AM on January 7, 2010


Nothing really new here--when Google's IPO was in the works, the family of the guy who coined the word "Googol" (via his nine-year-old nephew) tried to shake them down.
posted by Zonker at 8:09 AM on January 7, 2010


>...I'm frankly not sure why you're arguing that trademark law doesn't (or shouldn't) exist because Peppi's sells a Roethlisburger and the guy it's named after doesn't care.

I'm not saying trademark law shouldn't exist. It has a valid function of preventing confusion between competing products in the marketplace. I'm saying it shouldn't be used in a game of free-association.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:24 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, but now you think of it.

Think of what?
posted by Greg Nog at 9:22 AM on January 7, 2010


I can buy the idea that smartphones are inherently science-fictional devices and there's your tie. Maybe that's just me having grown up in a time without them, though.

I'm a big PKD fan and I did make the association early. "Huh, tip of the hate to Blade Runner. Cool." (I assumed it was the film because many more people have seen it than have read the book.)
posted by immlass at 9:36 AM on January 7, 2010


"I'm saying it shouldn't be used in a game of free-association."

OK, then we have no argument.
posted by kyrademon at 2:04 PM on January 7, 2010


>OK, then we have no argument.

Oh. OK, then.

Dammit.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:42 PM on January 7, 2010


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