Intellectual Property Law

Google IDs Defenses in YouTube Suit, Faces New Smartphone Name Claim

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Attorneys for Google Inc. and Viacom Inc. are sharpening their legal weapons as they prepare for a federal court battle over an asserted $1 billion in damages over thousands of unauthorized third-party postings of copyrighted movie and television videos on YouTube.

In letters to a Manhattan federal judge that were released today, counsel for the two entertainment giants outline the arguments they plan to make in competing summary judgment motions in the case. Among them: Google, which owns YouTube, says it is in a safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, reports Bloomberg, while Viacom, which owns the Paramount movie studio and MTV Networks, argues that YouTube was operated “with the unlawful objective of facilitating copyright infringement as a central part of their business plan to fuel YouTube’s meteoric growth.”

Stuart Baskin of Shearman & Sterling represents Viacom, while Andrew Schapiro of Mayer Brown represents Google.

Meanwhile, on the sci-fi front, the London Times reports today that the estate of author Philip K. Dick is planning to sue Google over the name of its new smartphone.

Fans of Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which was the basis for the Blade Runner movie, readily recognize it as the origin of the “Nexus One” name for the smartphone, contends his daughter, Isa Dick Hackett.

Blade Runner features Nexus-6 androids, a sixth generation of humanoid robots, and, according to Dick’s family, the operating system for the phone is called Android, further establishing the connection with his book, the newspaper reports. Dick’s estate has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Google alleging a trademark violation.

Google has said that the phone has no connection with the book and that the word nexus is used generically. The author didn’t register the word as a trademark,. To win a claim, the family would have to show that consumers think Dick’s estate is associated with the phone, the Times recounts.

Before Motorola marketed a Droid smartphone last year, the company licensed the name from the creator of the Star Wars films.

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