Isa Dick Hackett, daughter of the paranoid science fiction genius Philip K Dick, isn’t happy about the new Googlephone. The still unofficial handset may or may not be called the Nexus One, but Isa is already “shocked and dismayed” about intellectual property infringement: Roy Baty and his replicant cohorts in Dock’s novella Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep were all Nexus-6 models.
This is utter nonsense, of course, but the fact that PKD’s daughter is taking legal counsel about the naming of a still non-existent product certainly has a fitting irony. The word “nexus” existed before the Voight-Kampff test was even imagined. Here is the definition from the New Oxford American dictionary: “a connection or series of connections linking two or more things.” The origin of the word the 17th century. It is also a Dark Horse comic book.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Hackett did actually manage to make a case, though, and further leech money from her father’s legacy. Motorola licensed the name “droid” from Lucasfilm to avoid legal troubles, although in that case the shortening of the word “android” could actually originate in Star Wars. Hackett is rather more sure of things than her father ever was. “In my mind, there is a very obvious connection to my father’s novel” she told the New York Times.
What can we take away from this? First, clearly, that copyright lengths should be reduced (PKD died in 1982, 27 years ago). And second, that the Googlephone will almost certainly be called the Nexus One. The name has been used by Google in a United States Patent and Trademark Office filing, and by the handset’s manufacturer, HTC, in an FCC filing.
One of the few categories of almost-human being that I hate with a passion is sleazy, opportunist lawyers. Even those who don’t become politicians.
The only thing worse are the creeps who keep them in business.