Robot Makers Redesign Robot After Google Refuses To Give Permission To Make Android-Style Bots

from the open-source? dept

So the folks over at "Be the Robot" decided to make a cute little robot that could be controlled via your mobile phone. Not surprisingly, they decided to launch the thing on Kickstarter. You might notice that the robot has some resemblance to the Android robot... but it's not quite the same.
Why? Well, originally it was going to be designed as the Android robot... but then at the last minute, they realized that might be a legal issue. Even though Google encourages the use of the robot, it wasn't clear if this was allowed. So the team delayed launching the Kickstarter campaign to go visit Google and to seek permission... where hilarity (and no actual answer) ensued:
Just after we had uploaded the complete project on Kickstarter and about to press the “Submit to the world button” …we started to second guess ourselves and wanted to know are we really allowed to do this?

After further investigations, as well as talking to a few lawyer friends, we discovered that the Google Bug Droid in 2D form and in printed materials is in fact Open Source, so anyone can stick it on posters and make cut outs. But there seemed to be a gray area regarding the issue of whether a 3D version is in fact allowed for resale. So instead of killing the project or possibly getting into legal issues, we thought it would be a good idea to meet with some higher-ups at the Google Android headquarters and hear what they had to say.
To make a long story short, at this meeting (during which we felt like we were on a reality TV show) the concept was well received, but there was not definitive answer as to “Yay” or “Nay”.

Not wanting to kill the project after having already put so much work into it, and to make sure we could launch without any issues; we redesigned the outside shell to have a different appearance, while maintaining the same internal integrity and design we developed in the BERO secret lair.
So, it's sorta a little like the Android bot, but not quite, because no one could tell them definitively one way or the other if doing what they wanted to do was allowed. Isn't permission culture just great?

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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), 5 Sep 2012 @ 5:01pm


    It's too bad not more detail is given about the conversation with Google, we don't know who they talked to and whether that specific person/dept had any clue about how open source works.

    Was it a case of a lawyer using strictly legalalese with them? "It's Open Source, I do not have the authority or am in the position to tell you how to use the trademark".

    Was it some marketing drones? "Yeah your idea sounds great... no sorry we don't know anything about Open Source... everyone here seems to like it but I don't know whether it allows you to use it without permission"

    Was it a designer? "Awesome, yeah go ahead and use it... Umm you should be OK but obviously I can't speak for the company."

    My personal motto tends to be it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, but that's only when money is not involved. OTOH a good lawyer should have been able to advise them on the use without the need to consult Google.

    Let's also not forget that it's already being used in the wild and so far Google has not made any hints of moving to shut this stuff down: to-phuket/ nt-andy-the-android-wandering-australian-streets-to-drum-up-support-for-android/

    Maybe with a little more research they could have attempted to reach this guy for some better advice :-

    I mean, I may be wrong, has anyone got examples of Google stomping on any of this great creativity?

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