Just as rumors begin to surface that Google is getting into the smartwatch game, Oko International, the maker of a wide range of watches and timepieces sold under the brand name 'Android,' is suing the company for trademark infringement.
Oko, established in 1991, sells more than 400 watches and clocks that have been trademarked as "Android" products since 1994. Its pieces, which are marketed across North America, Japan and Western Europe, generate between US$1 million and $5 million in annual sales.
The company, however, does not seem intimidated by Google. "It does not matter how big the company is. We did not give Google the right to use that name," said Oko chief designer and CEO Wing Liang.
The timing of the suit, which was filed Wednesday in the California Central District Court, is noteworthy. It was filed the same week Google's Android unit was reported by the Financial Times to be in the midst of developing its own smartwatch.
But the lawsuit is actually directed at the way Google's online store sells other watches made by the company Modify Industries. Modify does not make smartwatches, but Google had been branding and selling them as Android watches at GoogleStore.com.
Oko is seeking both monetary damages and an injunction against Google to stop prominently using the Android name in how it promotes those products, said Howard Kroll, an attorney with Christie Parker & Hale, who is handling the case.
The amount of damages that Oko is seeking is not immediately clear. It would all depend on exactly how many of the Modify watches were sold online through Google as well as the advertising around them, Kroll said.
"This [suit] has nothing to do with the Android OS," Oko's Liang said. "I am simply protecting my trademark."
The Oko suit does not appear to be influenced by the Google smartwatch rumors either. "I am aware of the iWatch, but not a Google smartwatch," the CEO said.
Wearable technology in the form of "smartwatches" is gaining considerable buzz as other big-name players, such as Apple with its iWatch, are also reported to be developing their own units.
Google declined to comment on the smartwatch rumors, nor would it comment on Oko's lawsuit.
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