Here, and defending your trademarks

I read: Nokia threatens London start-up over ‘HERE”.

It’s all about Lowdownapp (I’ve not heard about it before this), made by David J Senior & crew. I think the crux of the problem is that they have also released an app called HERE and Nokia is obviously pissed because of HERE Maps.

Apparently Nokia has spent USD$12m on creating the HERE brand and are now defending it.

I’m not surprised this startup hadn’t heard of it. I’m also not surprised that unless you’ve used a Windows phone, you’ve probably not heard about HERE Maps either. There was a release of HERE Maps on iOS, but I’m sure it never got the attention that Apple Maps or Google Maps got (I’m including Apple here because laugh as much as you want, being a default, really helps).

A few months back, I spoke to an entrepreneur doing indoor mapping, and mentioned to him that Google Maps is starting to encroach on that space as possible competition (he knew that). I then said that the best indoor maps I’d seen so far had come from HERE Maps. He had never heard about it, and he’s deep into mobile and mapping. 

It’s a sad fact of life that $12m is money not well spent, because no one at the moment really cares about the Windows phone platform; so if that is your app showcase, you’ve screwed the pooch. To make matters worse, you can’t even find HERE Maps on the Apple App Store today (it was pulled down in 2013, but apparently will make a comeback in early 2015). It is still available as a beta in the Android Play Store. I liked this thread between Benedict Evans and David Senior, because while its clear that Nokia does have a trademark, and its clear to Benedict Evans since he watches this market, its definitely unclear to the masses that Nokia has anything to do with Here.

Should all startups perform a trademark search before naming their companies? I’m not sure – its already hard to get a good name with domain/social media presence these days. Plus its time consuming (not to mention costly) to do a trademark search in multiple jurisdictions that you care about (or maybe you can use a service like this?). Not something the average startup wants to spend costs on.

Heck, even established companies like Microsoft end up doing a rename of SkyDrive to OneDrive to please BSkyB. So it’s not a startup rookie mistake either.

What happens next is likely that the folks at Lowdownapp will rename their Here app; the functionality I’m guessing will remain the same, it will just be called something different. Do I like it? Absolutely not. However as a bonus, it looks like the app only launched in Dec 2014 so maybe it will be easier giving in to this battle.

One Comment

  1. M says:

    Nokia do not have a trademark to the singular word HERE (within GPS software), they have various formations of HERE in conjunction with another word. What they do have a trademark for is a ‘here’ sign; perplexing as their ‘here’ sign is in lowercase where the HERE in their product names are uppercase. Lowdownapp Ltd has an app with the singular word ‘HERE’ as the App Store App name (which I reiterate, Nokia do not have a Trademark for). They are bullying the company into removing ‘signs’ (as they call it) within the app. These ‘signs’ are actually either ‘buttons’ or ‘communications’ of what the app is functionally doing.

    Just think about the precedent such a case sets; nothing within software, textual or ‘sign’ like is safe from moneyed corporations deciding they want a company to remove text and imagery from within their product. Companies that are clearly going to give in because they can’t afford the legal costs.

    Anyone who has attended school in the England knows what the word ‘here’ is most often used, the whole case against Lowdownapp Ltd is untenable, completely ludicrous, and sadly very reflective of the plutocratic age we live in. Anyone who thinks millions of pounds patches up holes in semantic inexactitudes and logic needs to do some introspection as to whether their opinion has ever been anything but a regurgitation of what is commonly perceived within the prejudices of their social environment. I assume not.