Dick family take legal action against Google Nexus One name

Google Nexus One

The family of late sci-fi author Philip K Dick plan to take legal action against Google for the naming of its just-unveiled Nexus One smartphone.

According to the family, the name references the Nexus-6 replicants from Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which formed the foundation of the 1982 film Blade Runner.

Given that the Nexus One runs Google's operating system with the similarly sci-fi-flavoured name Android, the author's estate argues that the link is obvious.

Indeed, when the name first became public knowledge last month, there were immediate rumours of discontent from the late author's family, with Dick's daughter Isa Dick Hackett particularly miffed.

Hackett is the chief executive of Electric Shepherd Productions, part of Dick's estate tasked with adapting his works. The author died in 1982 having written 36 novels and in excess of 100 published short stories.

"Google takes first and then deals with the fallout later," Hackett told Wired.com earlier this week. "In my mind, there is a very obvious connection to my father's novel.

"Our legal team is dealing head-on with this," she promised.

Google has thus far declined to comment on the record, though some attorneys with experience of trademark disputes say it will be hard to prove that consumers will be confused between the two concepts a cornerstone of most successful cases.

"Will people buying the Google phone hear the Nexus One name and think that is just like in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" speculated Marc Reiner, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, to the Wall Street Journal. "A character in a book does not automatically get trademark protection."