The Who2 Blog

Did Google Rip Off Philip K. Dick With ‘Nexus’?

Philip K. Dick‘s family seems to think so.

“Nexus One” is the name of Google’s new phone, which uses the company’s Android operating system.

“Nexus-6” is the name of the renegade androids in the 1969 Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? You may know the book better as the inspiration for the film Blade Runner, in which Harrison Ford was the bounty hunter and Rutger Hauer and Daryl Hannah were the Nexus-6 androids.

“We feel this is a clear infringement of our intellectual-property rights,” Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, tells the Wall Street Journal. The story continues, “Ms. Hackett believes Google referenced that work in coming up with the name for its new phone, but the company never called her family or attorneys for permission to license the name.”

The obvious comparison is to Verizon and its “Droid” phones. Verizon actually licensed that term from George Lucas because it was so closely associated with his films. The question is whether the combination of “android” and “Nexus + some number” is equally associated with Dick.

Of course, the family could just be protecting its copyright, the way Walt Disney more or less has to crack down on nursery schools that paint Mickey Mouse on their walls. Ignore such cases and you could lose your copyright protection when actual big bad guys infringe on your work.

Or maybe the Dicks truly think Google IS the big bad guys. CNet, for one, seems to suspect Google’s purity.

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