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.