Philip K. Dick Estate Sends Google Cease And Desist Over Nexus One Name

from the money-grab dept

Last month, we noted that Philip K. Dick’s daughter was quite upset about the fact (at the time, unconfirmed) that Google was going to call its new phone, the Nexus One — insisting that this was a ripoff of the Nexus-6 robots from Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. It’s difficult to see any legal basis whatsoever for the claim, but we wondered if Google might just choose a different name anyway. Instead, it launched with the Nexus One name, and it took little time for the Dick Estate’s lawyers to send a cease & desist, claiming that it will sue Google for “trademark infringement.” There are a few problems with that, of course. The Dick Estate does not have a trademark on Nexus anything. Nor could it get one since it does not use the term in commerce. Oh, and since the phone is in a totally different business, it likely wouldn’t violate the trademark that the Dick Estate couldn’t get anyway. So how does Dick’s daughter respond?

“People don’t get it,” Isa Dick Hackett said. “It’s the principle of it.”

I’m trying to figure out just what “principle” that might be, because there doesn’t seem to be any legal principle. It’s hard to argue that there’s any moral principle either, since “nexus” is a word that’s been around since well before Philip K. Dick used it. In fact, the only matter of principle I can think of is the one where someone demands money for something where they clearly have no right to it and have done nothing to deserve it. Like demanding a big company pay up because it has a product named sorta similar to something your dad wrote decades ago.

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Comments on “Philip K. Dick Estate Sends Google Cease And Desist Over Nexus One Name”

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Marcus Carab (profile) says:

The principle of what? Giving a subtle nod of recognition (with a nice streak of polite humour to it) without paying for the privilege?

I hate this situation, because although it looks like the cease and desist certainly won’t get far, it also is unlikely that Mrs. Hackett will learn anything from the experience. She will probably stomp away all red-faced and make a bunch of sensational statements to the media about the flagrant theft of her father’s work and the awful modern world that has no respect for blah blah blah blah blah… She’ll preach, and the congregation will listen, and nothing will change.

duane (profile) says:

Re: May not be a money grab

No, it is not. Not at all one bit. I consider myself to be a big geek and I had to have it pointed out to me that the androids in Bladerunner were Nexuses (Nexii?)

I read the name Nexus One and thought, “Hey cool. This is the first Nexus phone. Hey double cool, Nexus means the center point for a bunch of stuff. So the name is totally meaningful”

What the hell does a phone have to do with an artificial person? Plus, why do people think Google wants their new bit of technology associated with fake people that go all murderous? What’s their next model, the Bundy?.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: May not be a money grab

I’ve been thinking about this too. Ultimately, I do think that they were referencing the book. But I also don’t think that matters at all to whether Google should be allowed to use the name.

Also, the phone relates because it runs on the Android O/S, and the Nexus-6s were “androids”. I agree that it’s an odd choice given that they were the baddies in the book – but it still seems like it was an intentional reference (at the very least, someone somewhere must have noticed the accidental reference and decided to keep it)

Again, none of that actually matters to the case… the name is absolutely fine whether it was an intentional nod or not.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: May not be a money grab

Is there any evidence that this is a money grab?

I’m sorry, but *what*? A quick read of the above story will clear things up:

The Dick Estate does not have a trademark on Nexus anything. Nor could it get one since it does not use the term in commerce. Oh, and since the phone is in a totally different business, it likely wouldn’t violate the trademark that the Dick Estate couldn’t get anyway.

See? There is *zero* legal basis for this. Not to mention, Nexus is a real word. Hence, it’s a money grab– she is hoping that Google will toss some money at her to make her go away. I pray they do not.

Walt (user link) says:

Re: May not be a money grab

Why is that obvious? PKD didn’t own the word Nexus; it held independent meaning before and after Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. You can’t copyright a word that has been in common parlance, that has been proven time and time again. The word itself dates back to 1655 or so, it means a connected series or group if you look at the etymology of the term. That certainly applies to an Android Phone.

PhilD says:

Re: May not be a money grab

Even if what you assert is true, which it may not be,
There is no legal or moral reason for Google to pay her for using the same word.

Even though I have a first edition of electric sheep on my bookcase and all three (or is it four?) released versions of Blade Runner the name Nexus One made me think of the 1994 Star Trek movie Generations, In that movie the nexus is a place where your fondest wishes are reality.

To me, that seems more like what the Google marketing people would be going for, that is as opposed to a device that could be a human (except by law), stronger and faster than you and dangerous.

Spectere (profile) says:

Blizzard -- you're next!

Gawd, I hope she doesn’t start playing World of Warcraft. If she does, Blizzard is probably going to get a C&D for their ballsy use of that “trademarked” word within their game.

Or how about the reference to that word in Star Trek Generations?

Oh goodness, more flagrant, unauthorized uses of that word!

*sigh* This is like the EDGE Games fiasco all over again.

Onnala (profile) says:

Money play or good promotion.

From first blush this looks like an idiotic move, and I’m sure that her lawyers know damn well they don’t have a leg to stand on.

So my take on it is that its a money movie, bitch, moan, and complain tell google pays her something to keep quiet.

Or if that doesn’t work, point out her fathers works, and see how many people start to pick up PKD novels to read. Especially the younger generations who might now have grown up cutting their teeth on blade runner.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nope, I am just sitting here thinking how the incredibly rich and profitable Google corp could have not only saved themselves from even having to deal with this, while also getting a sort of blessing and support for probably less than it costs them to stock an employee free beverage area for an hour.

This is one of those things where right or wrong, Google is going to end up having to pay their laywers, and they won’t come out of it looking any better (and could come out looking worse). No matter the legitimacy of the legal claims, it just seems foolish for Google to have even put themselves in this position.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Except that Google has an interest in pushing for good legal precedents on IP issues. Why license it just because they can afford to, if they don’t have any legal need to? That’s just an invitation – next it will be people claiming they need to license the name “Google” from the guy who coined the number “gogol”

KevinJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So, your saying they should just sign a license deal? Why? Because a dead author’s daughter is complaining?

And what possible legal ground do you really think she has? The Philip K. Dick estate does not a trademark for “Nexus”, “Nexus One”, or “Nexus 6.” So now my very serious question: how can you claim trademark infringement on a trademark that does not exist?

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I am saying for probably less than they would spend on lawyers, they could get the blessing and avoid this sort of stupidity. Fighting it costs money, and there is a risk (however minor) that they lose and have to pay up, or go through an appeals process.

Do I think the Dick Estate has a leg to stand on? Nope. Is it worth a few dollars not to have to find out? Yup.

KevinJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“I am thinking next time they would use naming that could lead to this (rather obvious) lawsuit.”

First, I’m going to assume you meant “couldn’t lead”. Second, why is this a “rather obvious” lawsuit? That would imply that it has a chance of winning, which you agreed before that they have no legal leg to stand on. And yet you seem to contend that Google should just give in, why? Why should they give in instead of fight back? Why should the Dick estate be rewarded for filing a lawsuit that we both seem to agree is completely baseless legally? Why should they take an action that would encourage others to file ridiculous lawsuits because if Google will pay up why won’t *Company X*?

Todd says:

Re: Re: Re:

Kind of like how it would make better business sense NOT to sue your best customers for using your product.

This is very close to the same argument that many on this site discuss. It’s not whether file sharing is good or bad. It’s about businesses accepting reality that digital distribution costs nearly nothing. Therefore, they would be better off using it to their advantage and stop wasting their efforts on things that give them a black eye. Like suing everyone that listens to music or watches a movie in a way that is not pre-authorized.

I know the anti-mike thing is your schtick but you are really making the same arguments now that Mike does.

If you want to argue and fight things on principle then that’s fine, just like Google can choice to do here. Whether its a foolish business decision or not might depend much on ones take of the issues.

Earl says:


Let me see, none of you jackasses can see connection of calling your android-based product the “Nexus One”‘s direct relationship to Bladerunner and the world created solely by PKD? How the two words together refer to something other that the meaning of each word, right? how it infringes on a concept that has a meaning beyond the juxtaposition of the two words. Yup. and “Apollo 13” is just a greek god and a number, and just like “Windows 7” is a generic fenstration and a number.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: WTF?

The point is: nothing is being infringed upon.

They don’t own the Trademark on “Nexus One” or “Nexus”. Period. It’s not a matter of ambiguity or legal interpretation – THEY DO NOT OWN THE TRADEMARK.

Even if they did own the Trademark, it would still be meaningless, because they aren’t selling anything in the same market.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: WTF?

I agree with you about the significance of the name and that just focusing on the fact that “nexus” is a dictionary word is a little shortsighted.

But that’s not the point. There is no way to, as you put it, infringe on a concept. You can infringe on a trademark, or a copyright, or a patent – but none of those things exist here, except potentially copyright under a poor interpretation of the law.

Crookline Baker says:


For a quarter of a century,”Nexus #” has referred to an original concept in science fiction, widely known in popular culture. For a company to steal the cache of that term for a friggin’ cel phone deserves to be punished. But, she is just asking them to stop.

You “dick-joke-geniuses” understand that a “cease and desist order” is not asking for any money? right?

Techdirt is really a tardfest these days.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Obvious

You “dick-joke-geniuses” understand that a “cease and desist order” is not asking for any money? right?

Of course you are correct. Assuming this lady had a single leg to stand on, she doesn’t want Google using that name. It’s the principle. She would never take any money from Google to go back into her mouse hole, nope, never. That wouldn’t be very principled.

Oh wait, yes she would; this move is, to any rational human, nothing but a money grab. Wake up.

Luci says:

Re: Obvious

You do realize that the bulk of C&Ds just seem to be a warning that ‘I’m gonna sue and make lots of money’ right? I can see the tardfest comment coming back to bite you, but apparently such things don’t bother you in the least.

The fact is that… well.. you can just read the damned article and try to understand it, yourself. She’s got no legal standing, and she’s no legal right to what Google has done, here.

TW Burger (profile) says:

Re: Obvious

It’s all about money. The cease and desist order letter was used instead of an application for an injunction because the lawyers obviously knew they had no case. It does seem to be a case where there is something to gain. Perhaps this is an attempt to sway the courts in branding Google as an arrogant corporation and have an advantage in the pending Google Book Search deal litigation?

Google has become so big that many believe it’s fair to bleed it any way possible. Microsoft is probably enjoying the fact that no one pays any attention to it any more because of Google. And the irony is that I do not know of anything Google has ever done to earn a pillage and plunder reputation while Microsoft built itself up using P&P as a standard business model.

Does anyone have an anecdote that shows Google as a less than completely warm and fuzzy corporate behemoth?

If the phone was called the ‘Android Data’ would Universal Television have the same complaint that it violated a trademark of STTNG?

saneartist says:


So because descent artists don’t apply for a “trademark” for everything thing they say and do, you can rip off their ideas and associations. Yeah Lawyers!! Six years from now Nexus 6 will be crappy cel phone in the eyes of the world because Philip K. Dick “should” have applied for a trademark. Pathetic!!!

Andrew F (profile) says:

Re: Re:WTF?

Most of the other work decent artists do is protected by copyright, and you don’t need to apply for that. Trademark is a very specific concept meant to prevent confusion among consumers.

For example, you wouldn’t want two companies marketing shoes under the name “Nike”, but consumers wouldn’t be able to tell which is which.

In this case however, the Dick estate does not sell cell phones or anything named “Nexus *bla*” — hence, no confusion and no trademark claim.

As to whether there’s a copyright violation — well, it’s a stretch to say the combination of two words is somehow a sufficiently unique and creative as to be worthy of protection.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:WTF?

I feel it is in my best interest to inform you, and all people that I wrote a short story quite a bit ago. In it, I use the terms ‘Response To’ and ‘Re: Your Message’. As I clearly own the copyright on those since they appeared multiple times in my story ‘Email Romance’, I also own clear derivations of. Of such, this post, and indeed, over 50% of the posts on the blog violate my copyrights.

This is a C&D notice that you must get rid of all these trademark violations. If you do not, I will have to sue and ask for billions. Willing to negotiate a lower settlement.

At least, that is what you indicate is the right to deal with something like that.

Well damn. How much do we owe Webster’s Dictionary now? I mean… no. Every word I write is another in that book. And possibly others. … Curse the instant ownership of all combination of words you put down, and any sub combination there of.

Would ‘System 6’ be infringing? Cloud 6? I mean, it IS _____ 6 just like it is Nexus __.

That is all.

Nraddin (profile) says:

Google is trading on someone elses geek status

I am not sure this will go anywhere, but anyone that can’t see that Google was using the work of PKD to help the products seem kewl either has never seen or read the story in question or is just to interested in hard and fast law to care.

I am not going to say that Google should have to pay here but I do think they knew exactly what they where doing. If I named a product line Enterprise and the first product in the line 1701, would you still be saying the Gene Roddenberry’s estate was full of crap?

saneartist says:

to coward

ITs wrong to take someone’s idea and “sell something with it” regardless of the market. This a the proper name of something, if the law says that a company like google can just steal it to sell their shitty phone, then there is something wrong with the law and the scumbag lawyers that make a living off ripping people’s ideas off.

Set says:

Bad analogy

To put it in terms that are less deeply ingrained in our common dictionary: How would you react if there was an operating system named “Spartan” and the premier device running that OS was named “John One”? That’s clearly a reference to Halo’s John-117 Spartan soldier, but I don’t think there’s any legal barrier to using that combination.

Bastid (profile) says:

So what

When I read about the phone and considered the name I thought “cool, nexus is a good name since it will be the convergence point for most of my communications” I had to be reminded of the fact that characters in Blade Runner were Nexus #. I don’t see the reasoning behind the complaint. Most people will not get the reference. Any that do may be tempted to see the movie or read the book. In fact, it reminded me that I haven’t seen the movie in some time. I promptly jumped on Vuze and downloaded it.

Oh, wait…

Anonymous Coward says:

Nexus a normal, common word.

A google search of nexus -google turns up over 24 million hits, a Bing search turns up over nine million.

It is used to describe and identify many things and many companies have Nexus in their name and/or have products with Nexus.

I once spent way too much money on legal expenses (>100K) because the name of my company had the word vigilant in it, a competitor used the word deep down in of their white papers a few years prior, the white paper was copyrighted so they claimed copyright on the word. It was thrown out and appealed three times. This wasn’t a money grab, it was a attempt by a competitor to drain resources to attempt to stop a legit company.

It is a pure and simple money grab by both her and her lawyers.

CastorTroy-Libertarian (profile) says:

PKD had a problem with it and went to Google and Google said F’Off, then maybe, I’d feel like Google is trying to pull something slimy,

but for the daughter (who didnt write jack or shit) to try and get a pay day for it because she’s living off daddy’s work… PISS OFF..
and all you whinny piss ants that say its a tragidy… Piss off as well, welcome to the real world, heres a hammer and a helmet, get back to work if ya want to eat…

Coward says:

BlueRay Bladerunner

by the way the Blue ray Bladerunner is awesome. the movie stands the test of time.

The Off World planet was a called Nexus 6 where the replicant uprising happened. That is way to obscure to sue. If they had a dude with a gun and called it Deckard’s Communicator I think they would have a case or something. They called it the ‘Like Tears in in Rain’ PDA maybe a small chance in hell.

Maybe the tumbler car phone anything but the most obscure part of the book and movie.

Lawer Jeff says:


“There’s no theft if no one owns it. Try again.”

This shear stupidity of this statement is what creates the ownership structure we are stuck in now. Its stealing if you didn’t come up with it.

“You do realize that the bulk of C&Ds just seem to be a warning that ‘I’m gonna sue and make lots of money’ right? I can see the tardfest comment coming back to bite you, but apparently such things don’t bother you in the least. ” -Luci

Honey, you are the stupidest person here; if google did C&D, there would be no case against them and no claim for money which by the way is actually the way almost all C&D cases resolve. Read a book.

KevinJ (profile) says:

Re: RE

“Honey, you are the stupidest person here; if google did C&D, there would be no case against them and no claim for money which by the way is actually the way almost all C&D cases resolve.”

Really? Did you even read anything? The Dick estate does not have a trademark on “Nexus”, “Nexus One”, or “Nexus 6.” And the cease & desist claims trademark infringement. So I ask the same question I asked of The Anti-Mike: how how can you claim trademark infringement on a trademark that does not exist?

Matt (profile) says:

Re: RE

Both of your statements are just wrong, and your insulting tone is stupid.

It is _not_ “stealing if you didn’t come up with it.” Look it up. “Stealing” is “the act of a person who steals.” To “steal” is “to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, esp. secretly or by force.” There is no theft if no one owns it, because it is not “the property of another or others”.

I agree that “shear stupidity” is the reason for the “ownership structure we are stuck in now”. In particular, idiots who can’t see past their own nose have permitted evil or just self-serving jackasses to hijack human knowledge and creation in service of their own desire to make a buck. Gross.

You are also wrong that “if google did C&D, there would be no case against them and no claim for money which by the way is actually the way almost all C&D cases resolve.” Every part of this is false. If Google immediately ceased, their conduct prior to cessation would be just as actionable as if they did not. More than one company has faced a lawsuit for conduct even after that conduct ceased, in some cases long after. I agree that there would be no case against Google, but that would also be true if they did not cease: there is no case against Google now. To the degree there _is_ a case, Google’s late-coming conduct can only stop the damages, not erase the damages already incurred. That would take a money payment.

The most important and egregious factual mistake is your completely uninformed assertion that cessation of activity “is actually the way almost all C&D cases resolve.” Codswallop. In most cases, the person who receives the C&D responds in some way. In many cases, that is with a strongly-worded letter by their lawyer. In many cases, the C&D-sender slinks off into the mud from which they came and sobs rather than incur the expense of litigation.

The reasons for this are complex, but in short: lawyers may be willing to send the first C&D for a small payment, even though they will not take the case on a contingency fee (because the case is meritless). Plaintiffs are willing to pay for the C&D, because who knows what it will shake loose, but cannot or will not pay for their “principled” but meritless case. Thus, there was never any chance of the case being brought – the C&D was an empty and hollow threat.

Of the cases that do not end this way, a substantial number end with a money payment from the party receiving the C&D to the person who sent it. Some of these are settlement payments – the recipient party determines that they actually owe money to the sending party, so they pay it to settle the matter up. Most of them are “nuisance” payments – the recipient party pays a small amount because it is cheaper and less distracting than litigating, even though they believe they could or would win the litigation.

Daughter of Dick may be hoping for a nuisance payment, but I doubt it. I vote that it is not a money grab – Google will likely respond with a very strongly-worded letter, and rip her apart. She will not win money.

I think the C&D is probably to publicize the wrong she feels has been done. She recognizes that she will never win a cent, but she is willing to pay some money to publicly harass Google and gain some public sympathy. If the publicity also helped to sell a few of her dad’s books, that probably wouldn’t be a bad thing either. In other words, this smells like the last, desperate move of a small, lonely little person.

DanC (profile) says:

Re: RE

“It’s stealing if you didn’t come up with it”

Not even close, but keep trying. You don’t make any sense either…you bemoan someone’s attitude as creating the “ownership structure we are stuck in now” when your notion of what constitutes ownership and theft leaves no room for fair use or the public domain. It also demonstrates a tremendous lack of common sense. As Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

Additionally, I’m not sure if you’re trying to imply that you’re a lawyer, but if so, you should definitely start spelling it correctly.

Chucky Sly says:


Whether there is a legal basis for a lawsuit or not is one thing, but the fact is, if you try to act like Google didn’t know what they were doing with regard to the DADOES reference (this is a company full of GEEKS, remember), you’re just being dense.
Google is a company of MAJOR league proportions. You don’t think a battery of lawyers already vetted the naming of the phone? I’m pretty sure they thought, “Hey, if we can get away with it, why not?”. For the reasons stated in the article, I’m sure that the boys in legal determined that they COULD get away with it and “Shabam!”, the Nexus One – PKD and fam be damned.
I don’t support paying money or heck, even renaming the phone. Just don’t feign ignorance when it’s pretty stinking obvious how their brains were working.

Chucky Sly says:

Re: Re: PKD

Maybe “getting away with it” is harsh in terms. They may have even done it as a respectful nod to PKD. If so, they should have just said so and PKD’s daughter should thank them for the attention. Google trying to play innocent makes them seem sneaky and dirty and PKD’s daughter “Lawyering up” just makes her seem like a jerk.
I think Google and Electric Shepherd could have both played this whole thing better.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: PKD

“They may have even done it as a respectful nod to PKD. If so, they should have just said so and PKD’s daughter should thank them for the attention.”

They’d probably be happy to do the former if she’d do the latter. However, it’s obviously another case of “court as cudgel” at this point, and there’s no point in ceding ground.

And, really, I can totally see them coming up with that name without realizing the implication viz DADOES, so they might just be feeling put upon.

Coward says:

The word nexus

The word nexus can be used for this phone. I don’t think bladerunner was the first thing on thier mind look at the official definition.

–noun, plural nex⋅us⋅es, nex⋅us.
1. a means of connection; tie; link.
2. a connected series or group.
3. the core or center, as of a matter or situation.
4. Cell Biology. a specialized area of the cell membrane involved in intercellular communication and adhesion.

n. pl. nexus or nex·us·es


A means of connection; a link or tie: “this nexus between New York’s . . . real-estate investors and its . . . politicians” (Wall Street Journal).

A connected series or group.

The core or center: “The real nexus of the money culture [was] Wall Street” (Bill Barol).

PKD says:


Most of the techie retards on this board have never created anything. Their concept of art and creativity is what they download for free to their hard drives. They are part of that Microsoft-Sony-Tech culture in which if you have the most lawyers, you can take anything. Let them have their “dick jokes” and fanboy defense of multibillion dollar corporations over the family of true artist and visionary.

The notion that PKD needed lawyers to trademark his Proper Names for manufactured products in the world he created is what is the sickest thing here.

Perhaps it should have been the “Darth Vader” phone? But it couldn’t have been since the name is really Darth Vader (TM).

How utterly sad and pathetic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

PKD is dead. All of his work should be in the public domain. Instead we have an heir who does not create anything suing over a trademark violation of his dead father’s work.

How does this advance art? Creativity? Culture?

I am an artist and create things and I think this reflects badly on the works of PKD.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What makes you think you’re the only one who’s creative here? Because you live in A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER? Seriously go back to your studio and cry while standing naked with your junk tucked back listening to “Goodbye Horses” and wish that mean old Google would leave artists alone. Is your real name Chris Crocker?

As is mentioned by others this pathetic parasite Dick Hackett hasn’t created a goddamn thing as far as we know. She just feels entitled to something she had absolutely nothing to do with.

So quit feigning umbrage over something that is clearly not that big of a deal.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Most of the techie retards on this board have never created anything.”

I have a whole company that creates IP (software) and has for two decades now. It’s small (15 employees) but real and profitable — the odds aren’t bad you’ve even used some of our software — and my income depends on our creative output.

And from what I can tell, a large percentage, if not most, of the regular commenters here also produce IP in one form or another for a living.

This is why I’m so engaged in this subject — these issues greatly affect me personally as a content creator.

I make no secret of my great distaste of Google, however I will defend people & companies against unfair attacks, even if I don’t personally like them. In this case, Google is legally in the right, and I don’t see what moral principle they violated by naming their phone as they did.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They are part of that Microsoft-Sony-Tech culture in which if you have the most lawyers, you can take anything.

I would think that most of the people who frequent this site (except for the trolls) are decidedly Anti-Sony, vaguely anti-Microsoft, and definitely against the “He with the most lawyers, wins” way of the world.

So, since you’re clearly new around here, welcome to TechDirt. 🙂

More on point, and has been stated several times before (just in this post, even) Trademark laws are designed *solely* to protect customers. I should not have to worry about buying a bottle of Joe’s Soda with a Coca Cola label on it. Further, even if, for whatever reason, the Dick’s *had* trademarked the term “Nexus”, they would have to be using it in the same market (i.e., phones) for it to apply to this device.

Lastly, I would like an explanation on what possible *harm* or *disservice* this does to the Dick Family that they would like it to stop.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nobody is suggesting authors should actually start trademarking things in their work. Obviously that’s silly – but it’s overly baffling to think they can accuse someone of trademark infringement when there is no trademark.

Are you saying that authors shouldn’t have to participate in the trademark system, but they should have a special exemption to wave the word “trademark” around like a wand when they feel cheated, and get results?

CastorTroy-Libertarian (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The Vader was the a name used by Motorola for a generation of Startacs, so sorry mr. smart ass “artist”…Epic fail
and George didnt say a word but ask if he could have one…

Oh and Engineers create things all the time, the difference of what i do (an engineer) and you do (as your self proclaimed artist title) is mine makes the world a better place and i get paid for it.

You slop urine on canvas and whine that no one gives you millions, once again, welcome to the real world, heres a helmet and some pills for the headaches…

Anonymous Coward says:

Posted by: mack_avelli | 01/6/10 | 11:53 pm
PKD: Nexus One Android
Google: Nexus One Android Phone
Whether the family deserves money or not, its ridiculous for the geeks at Google to pretend they never saw a connection there.
> Product names in works of fiction are not copyright-able.
I think you got that backwards. Its not a copyright infringement to use real product names in a fictional book (ie Johnny drank a Coke). The claim was also about Trademarks, not copyrights. Fictional character names and product names can have protection if they help identify the work (being the book).
Would it be legit for Google to try and get a trademark for Tricorder, the Bat Phone, or even more similar to this case: Commander Data? I could just see the quote now, “we were simply using the word in its original sense. Our phone lets you take command of data”

Anonymous Coward says:

“Do you have the faintest idea what trademark even means?

It’s not just that Dick never applied for a trademark. It’s also that it’s highly unlikely he would have been able to get one, and that even if he had this doesn’t meet the criteria for trademark infringement.”

Are you completely retarded?

It is just what google is getting 40 years latter

Andrew F (profile) says:

Science Fiction

Isn’t the purpose of science fiction to popularize futuristic ideas that people then realize?

“Look, we’ve invented the Holodeck!”

“You can’t call it that — the term Holodeck is trademarked by the Star Trek franchise.”

“But … that’s exactly what it is. There’s no better term to describe it.”

“Sorry, pick something else.”

“Ok, how about Holodick?”

Arasin says:


The daughter of one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century, whom by his very nature condemned frivolity in law practices and scoffed at the idea of any idea or name being subject to claim by anyone, much less staking a claim on intellectual property that he considered public domain, is ordering Google to cease and desist because of a name?

Seriously lady, you’re already rich beyond anything you could have possibly achieved during your lifetime and probably not even close to half as creative or intelligent as your father was. To say the least about understanding what he taught generations to believe in.

Now don’t get me wrong, I see the correlation, and anyone who has half a brain can. But does she have such a lack of a life she’s decided to pursue something that at best when they named the device is more of an homage than an infringement?

Go jump off a cliff, you’re disappointing your father.

Andrew F (profile) says:


1) You don’t want to set bad precedent. You wouldn’t want the Douglas Adams estate suing over references to the number 42 for instance. Sure, Google could just avoid not using the references, but these are engineers for crying out loud. Quirky references is what they thrive on.

2)The lawyer’s fees are offset by the increase in publicity. Prior to the lawsuit, I didn’t see the connection between Nexus One and PKD, but now I do, and that connection is probably going to increase my subconscious desire for an Android phone now.

liar says:

What would a Nexus Android dream of? Publicity!
Search term Nexus Android
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?:
Deckard, the protagonist, is faced with retiring six escaped Nexus-6 model
androids, the latest and most advanced model. Because of this task, … do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep

Exclusive: first Google Phone / Nexus One photos, Android 2.1 on …
Dec 14, 2009 … Well here you have it folks, honest-to-goodness pics of the Google Phone… AKA,
the Nexus One. As you can see by the photos, the design. exclusive-first-google-phone-nexus-one-photos-android-2-1-on/

Charlotte Singer says:

I know Isolde Dick Hackett, She is not trying to make money of this. Can you same the same about Google?

It isn’t a homage to take something without permission, especially when someone asks you to stop. If PKD and his estate (Isolde now owns the copyrights) were as greedy as say George Lucas and wanted to commodify her father’s work with trademarks, this discussion wouldn’t even be happening. I think the only people without a life are the ones disparaging this woman who is trying to protect her father’s legacy.

You need to ask yourselves, who created the the term and who is really trying to make money of it here. Siding with a multibillion dollar corporation when the association is pretty clear says more about you guys than her. As do the comments about her name.

Matt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“If PKD and his estate … were as greedy as say George Lucas and wanted to commodify her father’s work with trademarks, …”

But he and they weren’t. They made a choice to avoid seeking trademark protection of words like “Nexus-6” and “Android”. They almost certainly would have been unsuccessful if they made the other choice, but in any event they were better people than that and deliberately chose not to invoke the power of government to protect the assumed association between certain words and PKD’s work. Good choice.

Now Isolde is telling Google that it does not have the right to use product name because of the assumed association between certain words and PKD’s work, and that she intends to invoke the power of government to protect them. Retroactively. This is a fabulously bad choice on so very many levels. First, as you correctly note, this eviscerates the good decisions of her father. Second, even if PKD _should_ have sought protection many years ago, his decision not to has led the marketplace to believe that these words were available. To come back now, after the fact, and claim the trademark protection that was never properly obtained is not “principled,” it is sick. Was PKD really so duplicitous in life? I did not know the man, but it does not appear to be an honor of his memory or writing for his Estate to act this way after he has passed.

Words exist. They are part of language, and should be available for everyone to use to create and innovate. It is the natural evolution of language for each author’s contribution to create associations between words and concepts – it is how language becomes rich. That is the real measure of an artist’s contribution to language. Without the artiface of copyright and trademark, PKD would still have made the contribution he made and it does not (and should not) matter if anyone ever recognizes it.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s NOT about supporting a multibillion dollar company. It’s about people who want to exert control over something that should be freely availiable and in the public domain by this point. It’s the fact that I could be in Google’s shoes if I had come up with a product and named it Nexus One. It’s about every parasite who rides on the works of dead relatives they had nothing to do with.

Mr. Dick didn’t create the term Nexus One, or android for that matter. He just used terms previously created in a story. And now no one can ever use those words again? Fat chance.

The only reason Lucas was able to trademark his Star Wars characters is because they were used to make physical commodities. If Dick Hackett had come out with a line of Nexus-6 android toys, she might have a case. But since she didn’t (becuase who the hell would have bought them) she’s SOL.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, Google’s in it for the bucks. So?

Please explain to me what the problem is. Seriously, I don’t see it at all. Google’s name choice does not dilute PKD’s work or memory. It does not harm the income stream that his daughter gets. It does not cause any confusion in the marketplace. It doesn’t even come close to implying an endorsement.

So, where’s the harm? Where’s the wrong?

I’m completely baffled by this, and PKD’s daughter comes off looking terrible because of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Google should comply, and rename the phone the “PK Dick”. Not only would that avoid the current problem (as the term was created by Dick’s parents, and even if copyrighted, would be in the public domain now), but how great would it be to hear everyone saying “Hey, I’ve got to get me a Dick”, or “Can I borrow your Dick, I need to check something online”. Plus, how many people can currently put their Dick up to their ear?

Chucky Sly says:

Too Much

Let me also add that on both sides of this debate, the vitriol being flung at both Dick-Hackett and Google is just way over the top.

The digs at Dick-Hackett’s name name suggest some of you are stuck in a Freudian-loop of your own child-level sexuality.

The anger directed at Google is misguided because, really, why should you care so much.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Chucky Sly says:

Re: Re: Too Much

Okay, it IS funny, but it’s kinda lowbrow. I think it’s the fact that some people are using her name to add a zinger to their argument against her that was irking me when I made the post.
If it’s just jokes, I’m laughing with you. If you’re using it in your argument to make her look silly, it makes you come off as a bully.
Really tho, why WOULD someone do that to their kid?

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s not legalese if it’s in plain English, so quote to me the words that you don’t understand, and I’ll do my best to make them clearer for you.

Also, I am not against *all* laws, I am against laws that are poorly thought out, poorly implemented, unnecessary, or twisted/misused.

There is no law, to my (limited) knowledge that allows a party to have complete control over all uses of a single word.

Anonymous Coward says:


You’d think that PKD’s daughter would be proud and happy that her father made culture. She should be proud that other people use her father’s ideas. You’d think that she could use this highly publicised mobile phone launch to sell more of her father’s books.

But then again, she didn’t have the intelligence to write anything anyone would want to read, so let’s make some more money off daddy.

You get to an age, where you can no longer live from mum and dad’s pocket and you need to make your own mark on the world. That age for normal people is about 18-20. Does she not feel guilty that she is still living out of daddy’s pocket?

Chucky Sly says:

Re: Culture

But isn’t that what we work for? To pass the fruit of our labor to our children (assuming we have them)?

To diss her for (albeit misguidedly) trying to protect her father’s work is kinda twisted. I think it’s the lack of appreciation the fact that her father has influenced the general culture that makes her look ugly in this regard.

I would hope that when I die, any works that I may have created would profit my children and that they would, in return, work to protect it.

She should maybe take a clue from Arthur C. Clarke. You don’t see his progeny suing the creators of the Waldo. He concieved the idea and even thought up the name, but I have no knowledge of fruitless lawsuits being thrown around.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Culture

“But isn’t that what we work for? To pass the fruit of our labor to our children (assuming we have them)?”

Do we really? I would strive to pass good morals and strong work ethic to my children in the hope that they could achieve more than me. All you are doing by allowing your children to profit from your creative works is breeding lazy, entitled and greedy douchebags, who squander and waste all the money and goodwill that may have been passed on without contributing anything in return.

I would like to see my children have some moral fibre and I would like to see them work hard at improving themselves and the world they live in.

But then again, I am no artist, I am an engineer.

Chucky Sly says:

Re: Re: Re: Culture

Moral fibre and strong work ethic indeed should be among the first and most important things passed to your children, but what to do with your hard-earned trappings when you die? You can’t take it with you…

Some people pass what they earned to their children not because they’re trying to raise spoiled brats, but simply because they love them.

All that said, I don’t think she’s doing any of this because she’s going broke and needs the money. PKD’s estate and family makes so much money off of movie adaptations (with more to come!) that beyond managing his works and likeness, they probably don’t have to do a lot of “real” work. If they had chosen to blow this whole thing off, they’d still have plenty, I’m sure. I think she genuinely feels there’s a principle involved. Considering that her father was poor as a pauper for most of his life (even AFTER he was being called a “literary genius”), I’m sure her views on the exploitation of him are more extreme than yours or mine.
I don’t necessarily agree with her position but I wouldn’t begrudge her or offer criticisms for trying to protect her father’s work. When all is said and done, even though her C&D and any potential lawsuit are bound to fail, she’ll know that she worked to protect her father’s work.

And really, what else would we ask of our children when we’re gone?

anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Culture

“but what to do with your hard-earned trappings when you die? You can’t take it with you…”.

You can do whatever you want with your hard earned. However, creative works are not “hard earned”. Creative works are not money and cannot be treated in the same way. The creator of works has a right to a monopoly on their works, after they die it is time to pass the works onto the public domain to enrich our culture and to allow anyone to enjoy them or use it as a basis of their own works.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Culture

Then why don’t patents work the same way? If you’re an inventor and invent an invention then why can’t you pass what you made to your progeny?

And their progeny’s progeny and so forth? Seems fair. Aren’t inventions more important than cultural artifacts?

Isn’t rocket fuel greater than Shakespeare?

Chucky Sly says:

Re: Nexus One != PKD

I would also say that I liked Foundation better than DADOES (and PKD is my single favorite SF writer! – hence my trolling here for the purposes of this discussion lol) but there’s no denying that DADOES taps more into the psychology of man and our recognition of “what makes a person ‘real'” and other deeper issues than Foundation. DADOES simply reaches further to transcend the SF genre. I think that DADOES is probably a more “significant” book than the Foundation trilogy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ironic, no?

Page 3 of:

Finds this:

home (www)
Electric Shepherd Productions LLC was founded by Laura Leslie and Isa Dick Hackett, daughters of the late Science Fiction author Philip K Dick. …

From the bottom of the above url:

Sign in Terms Report Abuse Print page | Powered by Google Sites

Richard (profile) says:

I find it amusing that I’ve never heard of the musician White Zombie getting in trouble for his song “More Human Than Human” (also a quote from that book I believe) which features the line “I am the Nexus One, I want more life f%^*er I ain’t done yet”
That is an even clearer “infringement” of Dick’s work, or is it more of an homage, so it’s ok?

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