Palm legal puts kibosh on webOS theme for Android 31
If you’re a user of that other Linux-based smartphone operating system, then I hope you weren’t planning on making it look all webOSy. As it turns out, Palm’s legal team has taken an unkind view of the “Palm Pre Android Theme” and sent what amounts to a cease-and-desist letter to the developer. The primary objection is from the copyright standpoint, as Palm has trademarked both the images and the general user interface of webOS.
"While Palm appreciates that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, we are concerned that the use of the name “Palm Pre Android Theme” for your product is likely to cause people to erroneously assume that your application is sponsored, authorized or has been approved by Palm, or that you have, or your company has, a relationship with Palm. Creation of such consumer confusion would constitute an infringement of Palm’s well-established trademark rights."
The webOS theme for Android phones was offered free-of-charge on the Android Market. Palm’s letter cites a puzzling “potential for consumer confusion,” as if the users of the webOS theme will tout that their Android-powered device is indeed a Palm phone. Such a claim is, in this blogger’s unlawyerly opinion, utter hogwash, as it is dependent upon a user downloading and installing the theme from the Android Market (having already bought an Android phone) and then for whatever reason passing it off as actually being a Palm device.
Not so hogwash: Palm making the claim based on trademark. As followers of such theme-smackdown-hijinks of the past may know, a company has to take steps to defend their trademark rights or they risk losing them. A charitable reading of Palm's letter would mean that Palm isn't looking to squash the little guy, they're looking to ensure they maintain their trademark rights if they need them later to fight bigger guys.
Palm has also targeted the BlackBerry theme with a takedown notice, though it does not appear that the same has been done for the iPhone. It’s likely that due to the non-sanctionable status of the iPhone theme (i.e. the iPhone must be jailbroken for any themes to be installed), Palm is not overly worried about the iPhone theme. There was also TealOS for PalmOS users, by the way.
In the end we hope that all of these themes can be re-released in a form that doesn't infringe on Palm's trademarks yet is still 'inspired' by the webOS. Because, as Palm noted, imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery.