Would A Moron In A Hurry Confuse R2D2 With An Ad Platform? No? But George Lucas Would…

from the these-are-not-the-droids-you're-looking-for dept

Back when the Motorola Droid phone first came out, based on Google’s Android platform, stories started coming out about how Motorola had to pay George Lucas to license his “droid” trademark. That didn’t make much sense to me — after all, trademarks are only supposed to be for specific product areas where there’s actual use in commerce. However, in looking through the USPTO database, I came across trademark 77845682, filed by LucasFilm just last year for “Droid,” covering “wireless communications devices, namely, mobile phones, cell phones, hand held personal computers…” and more. Interesting timing, no? I am curious, though, as to exactly what “use in commerce” there is for LucasFilm?

Either way, we’ve certainly seen that Lucas and his trademark attorneys have been unnecessarily aggressive lately, going after Wicked Lasers and the company Jedi Mind (despite not having a registered trademark on “jedi” or “jedi mind”). And, apparently, they’re just going to keep at it. Matt Cooper, the founder of the startup Addroid wrote in to let us know that he’s the latest recipient of a Lucas nastygram:

“The name of my startup is Addroid. It’s an HTML5 ad serving platform. When trying to come up with a name I thought it should have the word “ad” in it. Also, it’s digital advertising so I thought: computers, robots, androids…wait — Addroid. That’s kinda cool.

This week the law firm representing George Lucas informed me that Addroid will lead to customer confusion. I get that George Lucas owns the word “droid” up and down. But I feel Addroid is simply a made up word. I really thought if I made up a word I’d be cool. The name of the company isn’t Ad Droid (two words). I don’t believe that anyone interested in my B2B ad platform would for a second think that C3P0 and R2D2 are going to come popping out of the browser.

I have a decent amount of money already invested in the domain and branding. I have 10 days to reply. I don’t really know what to do.

That’s my story.

It seems that Matt has also contacted some others. Anyway, as ridiculous as it is to think there would be any confusion here (I’d guess that Google/Android have a better trademark claim here, if anyone does), it’s probably going to be ridiculously expensive for Matt to fight it, should Lucas go past the C&D stage. Of course, he could just follow Wicked Laser’s lead and auction off the C&D to generate extra attention and hope that LucasFilm backs down. It also does seem worth noting that Matt appears to have registered Addroid.com back in 2005 — way before LucasFilm applied for the mobile services trademark and well before “Android” was a well known mobile operating system.

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Companies: addroid, lucasfilm

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Comments on “Would A Moron In A Hurry Confuse R2D2 With An Ad Platform? No? But George Lucas Would…”

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30 Comments
Nick Coghlan (profile) says:

Re: Um...not Ad Droid

I was going to go with “Add ‘roid” and wonder if it was promoting performance enhancing drugs for sports people.

Back on topic, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to add to the article – Lucasfilm are going overboard again about trademark law *yawn* (although, sucks to be their target, hope it works out for you in the end mate…)

Matthew (profile) says:

IP law is ridiculous...

I’m starting to come around to the radical side of the debate – no more imaginary property at all. Companies spend more time and money fighting each other over who owns ideas than doing something meaningful with those ideas.

I’m sure this type of business wanking is one of the tangential reasons why we’re experiencing an economic slump.

Yo ho ho... says:

Go for it...

fought something similar before…

will be painful if they choose to pursue — but believe it or not, in the end you will prevail. just going to cost you alot of time — and the other side alot of money.

Don’t spend big $$ on counsel. This is not an expensive litigation — as they can not recover legal fees and have to prove damages. In the end, they just go away.

Everyone needs to remember that all this IP pursuits are merely the creation of lawyers amassing huge legal fees. Unfortunately, it is the legal profession that contributes the most dollars to the political campaigns, which is why you will never see legislation enacted to change the antiquated trademark, copyright and patent system in this country.

DelBoy says:

Don't dispair

I reckon this will not make it past an initial hearing – as you have registered the name ‘ADDROID’ before the patent and it is obviously a new word – which you use commercially so is copyrighted before the patent kicked in.

It would take a highly bribed court to see Lucas through this case.

I wish I was rich, I would chuck in on this one & see those name leechers off. As they are using their financial might to swat some people around.

Time Lucas came up with some decent entertainment & forget about joining the army of patent leechers.

Money Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Thank you for the laugh. I was pretty much thinking the same thing, except I was concentrating more on the lack of punctuation and random use of capitalization.

I would have completely ignored him had he not elected to add a new post one minute later (rather than replying to his post) just to tell us that “sorry toral” is equal to “total.”

Stephen says:

i guess i'm a moron

the first time i saw a commercial for a droid phone, i wondered what star wars thing it was advertising, especially given the disclaimer that “droid” is a lucas trademark. i had no idea it was a phone.

what makes this patent laughable is that r2 famously cannot connect wirelessly. when the droids are in the hanger bay control room on the death star, they need a small communicator to speak with luke in the trash compactor. later, when r2 is flying shotgun during the assault on the death star, luke calls back from the cockpit twice to r2 to lock down a stabilizer, somehow able to be heard THROUGH THE VOID OF SPACE.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: i guess i'm a moron

“when r2 is flying shotgun during the assault on the death star, luke calls back from the cockpit twice to r2 to lock down a stabilizer, somehow able to be heard THROUGH THE VOID OF SPACE.”

Most everyone in that movie spoke ENGLISH, and C3PO had a British accent….and THAT was the unbelievable part to you?

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re: i guess i'm a moron

Actually, the rebels had American accents and the Empire had British accents. That was by design.

C3PO, being a protocol translator droid, speaks with a British accent because he was created to speak “proper” Imperial language.

Notice that Obi-Wan also has a British accent, because he spent most of his life on Coruscant, the central planet.

It’s just some of the incredible attention to detail that makes Star Wars a great story.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: i guess i'm a moron

“Notice that Obi-Wan also has a British accent, because he spent most of his life on Coruscant, the central planet.”

Yes, but also notice when Yoda asks Mace Windu why he’s always drinking grape Kool-Aid, his response is, “There’s too many motha fuckin’ Sith in this motha fuckin’ galaxy! Kool-Aid motha fucka, do you drink it!!!???”

I don’t know what Lucas’ intentions were with that one, but it seems fairly racist to me….

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Lucas is famously litigious as regards the word “Droid” (a word that they made up themselves, albeit by shortening an existing word, to note). “

In the original book it even still had the apostrophe: ‘droid.

Copyright: where you can take a word, shorten it and make people pay for your creative use of a process that is so common there is even a word pre dating your usage of it (apocope).

Maybe he can also get young amputees to pay for his creative use of losing a hand because it happened to ‘Vader first.

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