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Star Wars director loses Sweden 'droid battle'

Star Wars director loses Sweden 'droid battle'

Published: 11 Jul 2012 10:27 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Jul 2012 10:27 GMT+02:00

Back in early 2011, Stockholm-based digital branding services company Ocean Observations filed forms with Sweden's Patent and Trademark Registration Office (PRV) to register the name "Brandroid".

"The name is a combination of the word 'brand' and 'Android'," Ocean Observations founder Sofia Svanteson told The Local.

She explained the name stemmed from a project the company had been working on for a client based in Japan aimed at designing a more user-friendly interface for devices used on the Android operating system.

A short time later, however, the company received a letter from Lucasfilm expressing concerns about the "Brandroid" trademark.

The Star Wars director's company, which has several trademarks registered in Sweden – including "Droid", "Droids", and "Idroids" referring to "intelligent robots in the six films included in the Star Wars film series", feared that the Ocean Observations trademark could cause confusion among consumers.

Lucasfilm claimed that its trademark was "included in its entirety in BRANDROID" and that "the trademarks are visually and aurally similar" and therefore interchangeable.

According to Swedish law, a trademark can't be registered if "it is identical with or similar to an older brand trademark for goods or services of the same or a similar type" or if there is a risk they could be confused with one another.

However, when Svanteson received word of the complaint, she and her company simply dismissed it.

"We couldn't imagine that the objection would be taken seriously so we ignored it," she said.

"There are tons of names out there with the word 'droid' in them."

The Swedish patent office agreed with Svanteson's view, finding in a recently filed ruling that Lucasfilm's complaint had no merit.

While PRV admitted that there were similarities between the class of goods and services for which the Lucasfilm and Ocean Observation trademarks had been registered, the agency found there was little chance that consumers would be confused by the two because "BRANDROID" is viewed as a made up word with no connection to the meaning that the term "DROID" has by itself.

Moreover, PRV disputed that "Brandroid" would really be pronounced in a manner that would emphasize "-droid", arguing speakers would likely pronounce it "brand-roid".

Svanteson at Ocean Observations said she was "happy" to hear that the patent agency had rejected Lucasfilm's complaint, but emphasized that her company had never been concerned about it in the first place.

"I'm glad the matter is over, but we were never worried. It felt like the complaint was some sort of automatic response they send out any time someone registered a trademark anywhere with the word 'droid' in it," she told The Local.

David Landes

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Your comments about this article

11:27 July 11, 2012 by LiborPeck
Another example of Americans trying to dictate and push Swedes around. Congratulation Sweden that you are not puppets of other governments. Let's see how the Assange case develops.

Created By

Sarah Ahern

1. The process that has got (Assange) to the position he is in is flawed legally and morally unacceptable.

2. It could easily be argued, from a purely ethical perspective, that his actions serve the greater good of humanity in shedding light on the actions of various governments, principally American, since America is the strongest nation in the world at present.

3. It has not been established that he has violated the laws of America, nor has it been established that he has violated the laws of Sweden.

4. If he had not been silenced in this way, he might well have been turning his attention to human rights abusers in other countries right now.

5. America has been guilty of gross human rights abuses, as we know from Abu Ghraib, but the great virtue of the American political system is that it provides transparency.

6. If Julian Assange is extradited to America by a compliant Sweden, he will not be able to avail himself of the human rights he is entitled to, as someone who has never been proved to have committed a crime in any jurisdiction.

7. Julian Assange must not be sent to rot (and killed) in an American jail.
12:10 July 11, 2012 by Opinionfool
Did LucasFilms go after Google for using Android? No. And just think where did LucasFilms get the word droid from? Any attempt to trademark android or contractions of or derivative from it would be hit by the long established use of the word in English. Oxford English Diction records the first use of the word as being 1728.
13:20 July 11, 2012 by haklotech
This article is factually incorrect. The similarity was about the term ''Battledroid'' which could cause confusion with ''Brandroid''.

I can can see where Lucas and co is coming from.

It was not simply about the word 'droid.'
13:39 July 11, 2012 by Åskar
Yea, both words start with a "b" and end with "-droid". Very confusing.
14:15 July 11, 2012 by Dazzler
#1 STFU about assange for christsake. Way off topic and really...no one that matters cares.
16:51 August 17, 2012 by PatrikF
"Another example of Americans trying to dictate and push Swedes around"

Huh? It's just standard procedure, and anyone in any country would have received the same letter. Talk about being paranoid, and having illusions about Sweden's importance and influence in the world. US simply don't care about Sweden.
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