When Google announced its new custom smartphone, what did its name Nexus One bring to mind? Futuristic? Technology? Focus? Coolness? Blade Runner?

Yes, Blade Runner. The estate of the late science-fiction writer Phillip K. Dick, author of the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep that inspired the movie Blade Runner, is planning to file a lawsuit against Google. They claim that the term "nexus one" is violation of copyright.

You see, the term "nexus" was not invented by Phillip K. Dick. And the term "nexus one" never appeared in the original novel or the movie. Rather, "Nexus-6" is the name of the most advanced and dangerous model of android in the novel. That's kind of a stretch, but the Dick estate argues that "nexus" has a connection to the novel, because of the name of Google's OS: Android.

In my opinion, this case doesn't have a leg to stand on. The definition of copyright infringement is that the offending product is so similar to your product that its uniqueness will be tainted. If you have to explain how something is a violation of copyright, then it's not a violation. If Google named their smartphone Mickey Mouse, this would be an open-and-shut case.

What do you think of the Nexus One lawsuit? Let us know in the comments.


Mauricem said...

Google does have a history of making vague connections to pop culture in their products (ex. "Project: Unladen Swallow"), so it probably was intentional. But, the idea that the average person would go, "Hey, this phone must have been made by Philip K. Dick" is preposterous.


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