Google doesn't get embarrassed too often, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) just dealt it a loss of face by rejecting its application for a trademark for the Nexus One smartphone.
The PTO decided on March 9 to decline Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) request on the grounds it could cause confusion with the mark in U.S. Registration No. 3554195, which belongs to the Oregon company Integra Telecom.
Integra, a provider of phone, Internet and other telecom services to small and midsized businesses, applied for its trademark in December 2008 for its Nexus fixed bandwidth integrated voice and Internet T1 product.
In its ruling, the USPTO argued that due to the similarity of the marks, (Nexus One vs. Nexus), the similarity of the goods and/or services (both are telecommunications products), and similarity of trade channels, there is reason to believe issuing Google the mark could cause confusion.
Integra told The Oregonian, Portland's hometown newspaper, that the Nexus brand is a $60 million a year business for the firm. But the Nexus One has been less than a rousing success to date, shipping just 135,000 units in its first 74 days of availability, according to one report.
Google's next move is likely either an appeal to the PTO or a payoff to Integra for rights to the trademark. A Google spokesperson told InternetNews.com via e-mail "We continue to claim rights to the Nexus One trademark in the United States, and plan to respond to the office action from the United States Patent Trademark Office."
On the other side, an Integra spokesperson told InternetNews.com: "We appreciate that the PTO is protecting Integra Telecoms trademark rights ... Google hasn't contacted us since the PTO issued its objection but we hope we can work together to achieve our respective business goals."
This isn't the first naming problem for the Nexus One. The estate of science fiction author Philip K. Dick raised objections over the name, saying it ran a little too close to the name "Nexus Six" from his novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" which was made into the iconic film "Blade Runner."