Who is responsible for this billboard ad? Is it a Google advertisement? Verizon? Motorola? Droid?

Whatever the answer, it helps make the point visually that trademarks require protection beyond mere confusion as to source; basically, the same point we made a while back (in response to Seth Godin’s trademark position and then during a friendly sparring match with Ron Coleman), as we discussed the breadth of the Likelihood of Confusion test for trademark infringement:

With respect to what trademark law was designed for, and while I don’t consider this to be a news flash any longer, well prior to dilution protection being added, U.S. trademark law was amended to make clear that much more than confusion as to source is covered. All the way back in 1962 the Lanham Trademark Act was amended by striking language requiring confusion, mistake or deception of "purchasers as to the source of origin of such goods and services." Moreover, a much broader scope of confusion protection was codified in 1989 in Lanham Act Section 43(a), which protects against trademark likelihood of confusion not only as to source, but as to affiliation, connection, sponsorship, association, and/or approval. This additional scope of trademark protection makes perfect sense given the current commercial realities of trademark licensing, franchises, co-branding, affiliate marketing, and OEM relationships.

Back to the question of who is behind the "Droid Does" billboard advertisement. No doubt, the tangled and intertwined business relationships illustrated in the billboard ad likely have employed a lot of lawyers to keep them all straight.

For what it’s worth, the DroidDoes.com domain redirects to a page on Verizon Wireless’ website, but I suspect each one of these heavyweight brand owners (Google, Verizon, and Motorola) had a say in the "Droid Does" advertising campaign, clearly designed to compete face-to-face with Apple’s popular iPhone. So, Apple is being triple-teamed here? I wonder if Steve Jobs is flattered?

Oh, I forgot, one more heavyweight brand owner appears affiliated, connected, associated, sponsored, or otherwise involved in the complicated approval process here. Lucasfilm Ltd. (yes, Star Wars and George Lucas) is the record owner of the DROID trademark for wireless communication devices and apparently has licensed those trademark rights to at least Motorola, the brand name on the actual wireless communication device being promoted by Verizon and Google. According to DomainTools.com, LusasFilm Ltd. owns the DroidDoes.com domain too.

Do you suppose that Motorola actually manufactured the device or is that part of some hidden OEM relationship?

  • Its not just confusing about who owns it. Its just a confusing billboard with wording. “A bucket of does???”. In fact, every time I see it I can’t help but thing about a group of female deer. But maybe that just from watching too much Sound of Music.

  • Ryan Lobato

    No mention of the CBS (& Design) on the billboard? IMHO, its appearance here is the most confusing of all…

  • Dan, you’re not alone, I thought the same, especially since the billboards started popping up right around the opening of deer hunting season, at least in Minnesota: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/deer/index.html
    Our friend and GuestBlogger Nancy Friedman of Fritinancy noted the deer confusion in the ad too: http://nancyfriedman.typepad.com/away_with_words/2009/11/doe.html

  • Ryan, I almost mentioned the CBS logo too, so, thanks for raising it here. The point I thought about making was that to know for sure who is responsible for the “Droid Does” billboard ad, one probably needs to consult with CBS Outdoor Media to be certain, since CBS appears to own the billboard itself and then licenses it to the advertisers who post their billboard ads on it: https://www.cbsoutdoor.com/media/billboards/

  • Perhaps its just me, but after I read the headline a couple of mental pictures arose. One of a bucket of deer ready for a good old fashion boxing match — a Bambi smack down!. The other some strange new fast food cuisine akin to pigs knuckles in a bucket. Nancy alluded to that one.

  • Another thought, and I’m sure I’m not alone, doesn’t the red “eye” on the Droid look remarkably like HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey?

  • Now, if the Droid had an app to find deer for your deer hunting season, they might be on to something in Minnesota, I suspect.

  • Does it really take 3 brand owner heavyweights (Verizon, Google and Motorola) to take on Apple’s iPhone?

  • Yes and no. In addition to the trinity of pretenders for the smartphone throne listed in your post, let’s not forget that Google has also partnered with HTC to manufacture the Nexus One, and that there is wide availability of Android offerings from the major carriers and associated manufacturers.
    Given strength of Apple’s position, fortified by the sticky nature of the iTunes ecosystem, I’d say the Android platform has a very good chance of succeeding in the race to second place ahead of RIM and the Windows Phone Series 7 platform. I would score the “Droid Does” campaign as a plus with its intended audience of males aged 18 to 35.
    What I find amusing is the fact that Steve Jobs himself popularized the “Bucket of Fail” phrase with his comments regarding Blu-Ray-enabled Macs. Well in advance, I may add, of the “DroidDoes” launch!

  • Thanks for asking. I have been wondering why Android, why Does?
    I hate the DOES campaign because it reads like BAMBI (Doe, a Deer, etc.).
    A fistful of does = a whole lotta deer.
    And does, as in “to do” — well, how weak is that? Does? So what?
    Besides, androids are killer-scary. Not exactly something you want in your pocket at all times.
    Feh.