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Carl Pei's Nothing now owns the Essential brand (Update: Pei confirms)

Update: Carl Pei has confirmed that Nothing now owns Essential's trademarks.

Published onFebruary 17, 2021

Essential Phone

Update: February 17 2021 (4:11AM ET): Earlier this week, 9to5Google discovered that the Essential smartphone brand was now owned by Carl Pei’s Nothing. The move meant that Pei’s new company could use Essential’s trademarks, logos and more branding.

Pei has now confirmed the news on Twitter, saying it has indeed acquired Essential’s trademarks. Check out the tweet below.

The Nothing founder didn’t mention anything about patents being acquired though. So the jury is still out as to whether we could see Nothing launch products based on Essential’s patented designs and tech.

Original article: February 15 2021 (3:25PM ET): Carl Pei’s Nothing brand has been quietly expanding its horizons. 9to5Google has learned that Android co-creator Andy Rubin transferred the defunct Essential brand to Pei’s firm on January 6, with the handover starting at the UK Intellectual Property Office as early as November 11, 2020.

The move gives Nothing full use of trademarks, the logo and other aspects of the Essential brand. It’s not certain if this translates to any patented designs or includes any products. Nothing is poised to discuss its first projects as soon as February 16.

We’ve asked Nothing for comment on the transfer.

Read more: These would have been Essential’s next phones

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Nothing will produce a sequel to the Essential Phone. Some of the former Essential team left to work on privacy-minded products at Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Even if Pei’s startup has access to Essential’s since-cancelled product line, it wouldn’t necessarily have the resources to pick up where that company left off.

The Essential brand also doesn’t have much cachet. While the Essential Phone reviewed reasonably well, it struggled to sell. Sex scandal allegations against Andy Rubin from his time at Google didn’t help the brand’s reputation, either.

If this does include any patents, though, it could provide clues as to Nothing’s ultimate plans. The newcomer is expected to focus on smart devices, and Essential’s technology (such as its fabled AI device or home hub) could provide a head start. And if Nothing does venture into phones, it could borrow design cues or features without worrying about patent disputes or licensing costs.

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