David vs Goliath trade mark battles: Where does your start-up stand?

Following Nokia’s legal threat to London tech start-up Lowdownapp, fledgling firms need to be aware of the risks – and their rights, says Andrew Bayley.

As published on, 12 February 2015

Lowdownapp Ltd is the company behind a digital personal assistant for your smartphone. The Lowdown app includes a HERE button that enables users to alert contacts to their arrival at a location; there is also a standalone check-in app, called HERE. Lowdownapp is made by a small development team in the UK.

Nokia is one of the biggest and best-known global consumer electronics brands. Nokia HERE is the third-biggest mapping service in the world, behind Google Maps and Apple Maps. Nokia employs more than 60,000 people; its operating income in 2014 was more than €1.6bn.

In January, Nokia served Lowdownapp with a threat of legal action if it did not remove its HERE app from global app stores and rebrand the HERE functionality in its flagship product.

Nokia claimed that Lowdownapp’s branding was “likely to deceive”, that it amounted to misrepresentation and passing off, and that it made a mockery both of the £8m Nokia had invested in establishing its own HERE brand and of the relevant trade marks it had registered.

Lowdownapp CEO David Senior branded Nokia’s behaviour “ludicrous” and “heavy-handed”, calling out the company as a textbook corporate bully.

On the surface, it is a classic case of David versus Goliath. But is this a fight that David can realistically win?

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This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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