Nokia in Brazil court battle over Ouvi/Ovi brands

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s Nokia is in the midst of a legal battle over use of its services brand Ovi in Brazil, the largest telecoms market in Latin America.

A test version of Nokia's new Ovi Store is seen in a picture taken in Helsinki May 14, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Tarmo Virki

Brazilian telecoms services firm Ouvi Divulgacao e Marketing em Celulares Ltda told Reuters that Nokia is abusing the Ovi brand in Brazil to compete directly with Ouvi, a brand the Brazilian company has used since 2004.

A court decision on the case is due any day, Ouvi said. Nokia, the world’s top phone maker, declined to comment on the timing of the case.

Nokia said it believes Ovi -- a brand it introduced in 2007 -- is distinctive enough from Ouvi, adding that Ovi has a different meaning in Finnish. Nokia also said the brand would be commonly used together with the Nokia trademark.

“What Nokia apparently has not realized is that the 190 million inhabitants of Brazil speak Portuguese and not Finnish,” said Tore Haugland, chief executive of Ouvi, which is owned by Norwegian investment firm Diem Telekom.

Ouvi said that in 2004 it also registered an Ovi domain -- as the pronunciation of Ovi and Ouvi in Brazilian Portuguese is the same.

“We are sure that the Brazilian court will rule in our favor and we look forward to Nokia removing the Ovi brand from all the phones that have been shipped in Brazil and stopping using and mentioning this brand in Brazil,” Haugland told Reuters.

The court case is Brazil is the latest trouble for Nokia’s Ovi services offering, which was launched with much fanfare in 2007 but has had a rough start with only a few of the services finding traction on the market. Nokia has delayed launches in some markets and ramped down some services.

Nokia said it filed trademark applications for Ovi before the Brazilian company, but neither party has its trademark duly issued and registered before the Patent and Trademark Office in Brazil.

“We have our brand name also as part of the company name, which in Brazilian law counts higher than a registered trademark,” Ouvi’s Haugland said.

Editing by Gary Hill