Can you call your Android Device … an "Android Device"… Just Like That?

Fresh and interesting article:

There’s no such thing as a stupid question… Although this question may seem to be targeting just a few companies desiring to build a device compatible with a given Android version, it may also give you a short overview on how Google is using Android as a trademark. 

As you can read on Wikipedia, Android, Inc. was founded in Palo Alto, in October 2003, by 4 persons: Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner (co-founder of Wildfire Communications, Inc.), Nick Sears (once VP at T-Mobile), and Chris White (headed design and interface development at WebTV).[1] In November 2007, just a few months after the original and revolutionary iPhone came out [2], the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) was announced. On September 23, 2008 the current leading smartphone platform in the world was launched as an open source project.

As you know, Android falls into two categories: the open parts from the AOSP, which are the foundation of Android and are available on free and open source software licensing terms, and the closed source parts, which are all the Google-branded apps (Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Google Calendar, Google Camera, Google Hangouts, Google Now, Google Play Store, etc.) [3]. In other words, it is technically possible to build a device without signing any individual license agreement with Google Inc (even though your apps may look terribly old) [4]. For instance, Nokia will launch a new device “Nokia Normandy” (most probably during the press event on February 24, 2014) that “will run a modified version of Android that doesn't include Google services like Gmail, Google Maps, and the Google Play store for Android apps and other content. That means Google won't generate any revenue from Nokia's phone, even though the operating system is based on Android”[5]

So, yes, it is possible to call your Android device … an "Android Device"… just like that. Well, that’s not entirely true … To be able to call it an Android device, a phone manufacturer needs a license from Google Inc, called a Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (“open source licenses cover software copyright, they may come with patent provisions, but licenses like the GPL or ASL (Apache) don't involve trademarks”[6]). As you can see in the (long) illustrative, non-exhaustive list of trademarks owned by the Company, Android is one of them [7]. It is important to use a mark correctly. Indeed, “rights to a trademark can survive indefinitely if an owner continues to use a mark to identify its goods and services. If trademarks are not used properly, they may become weak or lapse-putting one of the company's most important assets at risk. Rights may be lost not only by a trademark owner's improper use of its mark, but also by improper use of the mark by third parties or the public” [8].

If you would like brand features for other Google products (such as the little green robot), you should check out the product-specific guidelines below provided by Google Inc [9]:

Android in text

·         Android™ should have a trademark symbol the first time it appears in a creative.

·         Android should always be capitalized and is never plural or possessive.

·         "Android" cannot be used in names of applications or accessory products, including phones, tablets, TVs, speakers, headphones, watches, and other devices. Instead use "for Android".

o    Incorrect: "Android MediaPlayer"

o    Correct: "MediaPlayer for Android"

If used with your logo, "for Android" needs to be smaller in size than your logo. First instance of this use should be followed by a TM symbol, "for Android™".

·         Android may be used as a descriptor, as long as it is followed by a proper generic term.

o    Incorrect: "Android MediaPlayer" or "Android XYZ app"

o    Correct: "Android features" or "Android applications"

Any use of the Android name needs to include this attribution in your communication:

Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

Android robot

The Android robot can be used, reproduced, and modified freely in marketing communications. The color value for print is PMS 376C and the online hex color is #A4C639.

When using the Android Robot or any modification of it, proper attribution is required under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license:

The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.

You may not file trademark applications incorporating the Android robot logo or derivatives thereof. We want to ensure that the Android robot remains available for all to use.

Android logo

The Android logo may not be used. Nor can this be used with the Android robot.The custom typeface may not be used.

So, no, it is not possible to call your Android device … an "Android Device"… just like that.

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[2] (last visited February 17, 2014).

[8] (last visited February 17, 2014).

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