Nokia asks the open-source phone project ‘Notkia’ to change its name

A Nokia original and the Notkia side by side.  Image via Hackaday.

A Nokia original and the Notkia side by side. Image via Hackaday.

A tiny designer is facing legal action from Nokia after the company claimed his project, known as Notkia, is “confusingly similar” to a long-discontinued phone made 14 years ago.

The creator, who goes through Reimu NotMoe online, started working on this project in 2019, aiming to create a wearable device with 100% free software. It runs on Linux, and its components are housed in a Nokia 168x shell, the less popular, but almost as clumsy successor to Nokia’s 3310 model.

They posted about the project and its progress on Hackaday. “The original reason was that modern smartphones are becoming increasingly hacker and privacy averse,” NotMoe wrote on Hackaday. They were also getting bigger and heavier. NotMoe wrote that they tried several other old phone cases, but none really worked; they settled on the Nokia 168x for its roominess and overall looks.

Last week, NotMoe received an email notice from Nokia Corporation, asking them to immediately remove all references to the “Notkia” name from their Hackaday posts and to stop using the project name altogether. Nokia claimed in the email that the Notkia name is “confusingly similar” to Nokia, and “potentially misleading people into thinking” that their creation is an official Nokia product.

“We were indeed surprised,” NotMoe told me, noting that the Nokia was released in 2008 and has long since been discontinued. Nokia has however reissued prior designs play on people’s nostalgia for their old devices. It’s a much less popular phone than other Nokia models, and with its design patents Due to expire in almost exactly one year from now, they believed it would not harm Nokia in any way. “And apparently it wasn’t,” they said.

“It seems they were only interested in their ‘Nokia’ brand. But that seems absurd,” NotMoe said. “First of all, the Notkia is a product designed for hackers, open-source enthusiasts, and privacy-conscious people. It just won’t reach non-techies, nor will they know how to buy, build and use such a device. How can an ordinary technician be unable to notice the extra “t”? Apparently Nokia Corporation is worried that some random old grandma will accidentally buy the Notkia instead of his Nokia, which is highly illogical.

NotMoe told me they don’t have the time or expertise to fight a multinational like Nokia, so they’re changing their name and looking for fan suggestions for the project.

A Nokia spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement, “Use of the Notkia name in connection with any telephone device or software constitutes an infringement of the Nokia trademark. We are happy that [NotMoe] agreed to change his name and that we were able to settle the matter amicably.

NotMoe said they were also canceling a planned release that would have reused a Nokia E63 shell. But they are not moving slowly.

“My opinion is that all companies will become bad as they grow,” NotMoe said. ” It’s inevitable. It is the nature of humans. Nintendo is notoriously vicious about its intellectual property and spends a lot of time and resources researching small creatorsforcing them to change brands, stop their plansrisk lose its audience, owes the company millionsor delete years of archival work.

Nokia, historically, has primarily directed its IPR complaints to other large companies, like Apple.

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