running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

How Can it Not Know What It Is?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

So said Deckard after questioning Rachael, a Nexus Six replicant who is unaware that she is not a human but an android, in Ridley Scott's seminal 1982 sci-fi classic 'Bladerunner'.

The film, set in 2019, was based on Philip K. Dick's novel 'Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep?'.

The branding for Google's recently launched smart phone seems to have borrowed heavily from it too, according to Dick's daughter Isa. The phone is called the 'Nexus One', and its operating system is 'Android'.

Isa Dick is claiming that these are clear infringements of her late father's trademark rights.

Google Nexus One

This has happened before with futuristic names and techy gadgets. Verizon used the 'Droid' name from Star Wars for one of its Motorola phones, but it had to do so under license. Turns out 'Droid' was more than just a word, George Lucas actually owned trademarks for the term.

But the terms from Dick's work are merely character names. The objections against Google would probably stand up in court if a new movie, novel, or advert came out referring specifically to android and nexus as fictional characters. The link is so tenuous that the claim will surely never get that far.

Even so, Google will probably negotiate a settlement, if only to protect the image of their new gadget, which is being marketed as a direct competitor to the iPhone.

Personally, I think 'Nexus One' is a great nod to Dick. Surely he would have appreciated it being used to name a handheld gadget that harnesses everything we have learned about interactive media, and can do things even he never dreamed of in his sleep.

Bladerunner @ IMDB
Philip K. Dick on wiki
Google Nexus One