Carl Pei's Nothing has acquired the branding of defunct phone brand Essential

Andy Rubin transferred the company's trademarks and logo to Pei's startup in January.

Chris Velazco / Engadget

Andy Rubin’s Essential may get a second chance at life. Nothing, the new startup from OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, has acquired the company’s branding. Digging through the UK Intellectual Property Office database, 9to5Google found that Rubin transferred ownership of Essential’s trademarks and logo to Pei's new venture on January 6th, 2021. It’s not clear if the startup also picked up Essential’s patents, nor what it plans to do with the logo and trademarks now that it owns them.

When Pei first shared details about Nothing earlier this month, he said its first product would be a pair of wireless earphones and promised more devices later in 2021. “We’re building an ecosystem of smart devices,” he told Bloomberg. “We’ll start with simpler products, wireless earbuds. We’re going to have multiple products throughout the year, not just audio products, and eventually we want to build it so these devices talk to each other.”

If buying up Essential’s trademarks is a sign Nothing plans to release a phone, the company is gambling the legacy of Rubin's startup will do it more good than bad. For all of its failings, Essential had a passionate fanbase that loved the PH-1, the only phone it released. However, the company became mired in controversy after it came out that Rubin may not have been transparent about the exact reasons he left Google in 2014.

Even if Nothing ends up sitting on the trademarks, Essential’s legacy is likely to live in other ways. At the end of 2020, more than two dozen former employees ended up at OSOM Products, a company founded by Jason Keats, Essential’s former head of R&D. The startup plans to release a privacy-focused Android device later this year. In the meantime, Nothing has promised to share more details about its upcoming devices at the end of February.