The $100 million open source Android trademark infringement


Looks like Google could be in deep water, along with the Open Handset Alliance and some 40 or so companies, over an apparent trademark infringement. Now you might think that there had been some pretty heavyweight due diligence before Google and the OHA determined to call the open source mobile phone operating system. And indeed, it would seem that Google had indeed made all the right noises to the US Patent and Trademark Office but unfortunately the PTO refused the trademark application after it determined the mark had been granted to a software development outfit by the name of Android Data Corp. way back in 2002. Google, on the other hand, were rather late to the trademark game apparently waiting until a few days before unveiling the plans for Android in October 2007 to make the application. An application that was rejected in February 2008 on the grounds that it was too similar to the 'Android Data' mark awarded to Android Data Corp. founder Erich Specht six years earlier. According to reports Google appealed on the grounds that the original holder had lost it's claim through inactivity, an appeal that the PTO once again rejected. Further appeals also failed, and the Google trademark application as finally suspended in November 2008.

Now it would appear that Specht has decided enough is enough after Google, the OHA and a long list of other defendants including the likes of Motorola, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile and Toshiba have been selling goods and services using his trademark and he wants it to stop. He also wants a little in the way of compensation, $94 million in all. His attorney goes as far as calling it the use of "a stolen name." Google, meanwhile, is committed to "defend vigorously" against the lawsuit.

I expect a settlement to come pretty quickly, and an out of court one at that. After all, T-Mobile has reportedly sold a million Android handsets, the HTC Magic is due real soon now and there could be another 40 new handsets to follow.

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...

macemoneta 0 Newbie Poster

Android Data? Didn't 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' get there first (1987)? Google should probably pursue invalidating the "Android Data' trademark.

happygeek 2,411 Most Valuable Poster Team Colleague Featured Poster

Good point! ROFL :)

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