Google, Handset Makers Sued Over Android Name

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Google, the Open Handset Alliance, and a host of mobile technology companies including Samsung, T-Mobile, Motorola, Intel , Asus, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Vodafone, Qualcomm, and SiRF plus many others have all been sued for breach of trademark for using the word "Android." Android, of course, is Google open source mobile operating system—which is increasingly looking like it might make the leap to netbooks and other devices besides phones. One problem with that, though: Sprecht runs a small software development and ISP out of Palatine, Illinois, under the name Android Data. And he had the foresight to trademark the name, applying for trademark protection in 2000, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granting the trademark in 2002.

Google applied for its Android trademark in October 2007 just before publicly announcing Android, and had their trademark application rejected due to possible confusion with Sprecht’s trademark. Google attempted to appeal the decision, arguing that Android Data Corporation had apparently dissolved in May 2004 (though it was later reactivated) and that the company hadn’t even bothered to keep its domain registration active. However, the USPTO didn’t buy it, and repeatedly rejected Google’s appealed before suspending Google’s trademark application last November.

Now, Sprecht has apparently realized Google’s Android is software product, not a specific mobile device, and has rushed to protect his trademark. Sprecht is seeking an injunction on the sale of Android-branded products in the United States and some $94 million in damages for trademark infringement.

A Google spokesperson has said that the company believes Sprecht’s claims are without merit, and that the company intends to defend itself against them.

Sprecht’s trademark does not extend to any use of the word Android, but only as it applies to computer hardware and software in an "International Class 009" trademark application. The fundamentals of the case will likely revolve around the type of trademark sought and will potentially involve Sprecht’s registration of the word "data" along with Android; Sprecht indicated the word was merely descriptive and that "Android" was the most significant term in his trademark application.

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