Like Apple’s initial problem with Cisco using the “iPhone” name, Google is facing its own problems using the Android name.
The back story: In 1999, Illinois entrepreneur Erich Specht started a company called Android Data Corporation, and began selling various software under the Android name.
In June 2000, Erich filed for trademark protection over the name “Android Data.” The registration was granted in October 2002 by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
This past April, Erich filed a lawsuit over trademark infringement of the name Android against Google, Motorola, Samsung, and Sprint Nextel. He also wanted $100 million dollars in damages.
Since then, the court has dismissed those charges, leaving Google the only defendant left.
The latest: Not one to back down from a legal challenge, Google’s lawyers have responded by counter-suing Erich Specht. Google wants punitive damages, attorney fees, denial of payments requested, and an order for the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel Erich’s “Android Data” registration.
Both lawsuits are still in process. But given the amount of brand equity Android has built with Google, it’s unlikely they’ll let it go. (If they lose, they’ll probably settle. If they don’t settle first.)
Some interesting facts being alleged by both sides:
- In February 2008, the US Patent and Trademark Office denied Google’s attempt to register “Android” for use in computer hardware and software. Google’s subsequent appeals were all denied.
- Google’s application for the Android name is now suspended.
- Google alleges Erich never properly renewed the Android trademark and effectively abandoned it from disuse.
- Google alleges a stranger at first tried to use Erich’s trademark to extort money from Google’s legal department.
- Erich alleges that Google has collected more than $50 million in Android developer registration fees and that Google has sold more than $1 billion worth of Android equipment since 2008.
- Erich also alleges T-Mobile G1, the first Android phone, took more than $10 million and almost three years to develop.
- Google has denied both financial allegations and claims because it doesn’t sell equipment directly it is not materially benefiting from any Android sales.