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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 6:52am

    Um...not Ad Droid

    A DD 'roid.
    Sounds pretty painful to me.

     

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  2.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 7:01am

    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...)

     

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  3.  
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    Matthew (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 7:08am

    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.

     

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  4.  
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    Dave Cleveland, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 7:11am

    I have a hemor 'rhoid' ..does this mean George Lucas will be coming after me too?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 7:16am

    @Dave Cleveland:

    Sounds like he's already landed.

     

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  6.  
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    xs (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 7:18am

    He should counter sue

    Using the exact wording in the George Lucas threat letter. Since he had registered the trademark in 2005, by their logic, he should have a pretty good case against George Lucas, Google, Verizon, Motorola, and HTC for using Android and Droid.

     

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  7.  
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    A. Lloyd Flanagan (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 7:24am

    Verizon had another motive

    There's no excuse for LucasFilm. However, it's worth pointing out one big advantage to Verizon for their license: they can legitimately play up the "Star Wars" connection in their advertising. That might be worth a fair chunk of change all by itself.

     

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  8.  
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    Yo ho ho..., Sep 15th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    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.

     

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  9.  
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    DelBoy, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    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.

     

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  10.  
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    mike allen (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 8:04am

    how can anyone confuse ADDROID with a fioctional charactors even people who think Sherlock Holmes is real aint that dumb.
    Is george lucas a toral moran. ohh wait he keeps releasing the same crap so i guess he thinks the rest of the world are.

     

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  11.  
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    mike allen (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 8:05am

    sorry toral = total

     

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  12.  
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    DS, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 8:06am

    Addroid, sounds more like a take on Hemorrhoid to me. Maybe Lucas should sue Preparation-H as well.

     

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  13.  
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    Stephen, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 8:08am

    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.

     

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  14.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 8:35am

    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?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 8:38am

    Re:

    That's the one word, out of the six you misspelled, you focus on to fix?

     

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  16.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re:

    Shut up, moran....

     

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  17.  
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    BBT, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    contradiction

    Is George in a hurry? Your headline might contradict itself.

     

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  18.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: i guess i'm a moron

    Shut up, moran....

     

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  19.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Re: He should counter sue

    He's got enough of a problem with the original suit.

    One law for rich an poor alike, that allows both access to expensive teams of lawyers and court time.

     

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  20.  
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    Chris Meadows (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 11:37am

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

    And they have been all the way back to the '70s, when FASA came out with "BattleDroids" and Lucas made them change it to BattleTech.

     

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  21.  
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    PRMan, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    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.

     

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  22.  
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    PRMan, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 1:25pm

    Re: i guess i'm a moron

    Oh, and since R2 also puts up status messages on the screen, I'm assuming Luke is talking to him through his connection to the ship's computer, which has a microphone and speaker on the dash, not THROUGH THE VOID OF SPACE.

     

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  23.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 2:08pm

    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....

     

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  24.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 3:16pm

    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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  25.  
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    Money Mike (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 3:49pm

    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."

     

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  26.  
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    Richard Hack (profile), Sep 15th, 2010 @ 10:55pm

    George Lucas has long been a frickin' IP idiot

    He once argued that if you bought a lawn sculpture and then painted it, the sculptor should be able to sue you for infringement.

    He thinks artists literally should have total control over everything YOU pay money for, and you should have ZERO control.

    He's a nut.

     

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  27.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Sep 19th, 2010 @ 2:47pm

    Length of Copyright

    If all this happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, hasn't the copyright expired yet?

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    mobile phone straps, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 1:41am

    mobile phone straps

    So without further ado, we bring you the particular newest members of our stylish Fashion Stalker set together with hope that they inspire you mobile phone straps to make this fall the particular season to try it all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2011 @ 6:32am

    morons...isnt'it MORONIc oxygun?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    lrobbo (profile), May 23rd, 2012 @ 10:33am

    Re:

    I have several, he can have them back any time . . . and he knows where he can put them . . .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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