UTube Sues YouTube Over Clogged Tubes

from the and-then-come-the-lawyers dept

Remember a couple of weeks ago, right after YouTube was bought, there was a story about the unfortunate case of Universal Tube & Rollform equipment, the company that owned the domain UTube.com, and how they were overwhelmed with traffic as people thought they were visiting YouTube.com? At the time, we noted that UTube was hoping to cash in on the deal by selling the domain name. They had already turned down a $1 million offer and were hoping for at least $2.5 million. This seemed a little silly, recognizing that the attention was likely to be short-lived. Well, it looks like UTube is still trying to cash in, but the plan to sell the domain hasn’t worked out so well. Instead, the company has decided to sue YouTube, claiming that the names are confusingly similar — and that all the attention has caused them all sorts of problems. Beyond just the traffic deluge taking them down, they claim that the police have contacted them to find out about reports that they’re hosting illegal videos (which seems easy enough to clear up). Of course, if UTube was really so worried about this, why didn’t they take it up much earlier? It seems that their interest in suing only came about once YouTube got rich by selling out to Google. And, of course, there’s the issue that the two companies are in completely different markets, and anyone looking at either site is hardly likely to confuse one for the other — making just about any trademark claim somewhat pointless.

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Comments on “UTube Sues YouTube Over Clogged Tubes”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Sympathy for the Devil

Does seem like you’re in the right however I don’t necessarily buy that they are intentionally picking on you.

The number of videos on YouTube is massive and any attempt to keep up with removal of infringing video must be automated in some way – it’s simply not reasonable for anyone to expect eyes on each and every video to ensure it’s compliance. Sure, it sucks that you’re caught in the middle but I don’t see that it’s YouTubes’s fault for being forced, out of self-preservation, to make every attempt to remove infringing content.

That being said, my bet is that any case against you will be dropped once it is realized that the content in question is not actually guilty of infringement. If anything be pissed at the process and help to get the law changed because, as you point out, it clearly is affecting non-infringers in a negative way.

panhandler (user link) says:

Re: Re: Sympathy for the Devil

Oh, I’m not THAT big of an egotist. I don’t think they said, “Hey, that guy with the ‘Panhandling’ blog, let’s go f-ck with him!”

And I absolutely agree that you can’t possibly ask content providers to view every second of every uploaded video. But simple tag filtering is UTTERLY LAUGHABLE as a substitute, time-saving method for finding infringement. I’d like to see a court at some point apply something that looks like the Frye test. The question(s) for the Plaintiff: “What is your automated method for catching infringement? How many false positives does it generate? 1 in 1000? 1 in 100? 1 in 10?” Mere tag-searches would not only be laughed out of any half-competent judge’s chambers, but I believe come damn close to intentional bad-faith on the Plaintiff’s part. You might as well just issue DUI’s to everyone on the road at 11pm Friday, and tell the innocent ones to come on in and prove it.

And I don’t expect a “case” to be brought against me at all. In fact, I can’t even get YouTube to acknowledge my existence two weeks later. You think CI will voluntarily call YouTube back and say, “Oh yah, we were wrong about these 10,000 videos.”? Hell no. This is the end of YouTube, because they’re paralyzed into inaction and their individual users are powerless to “fight back.”

(Note: I am a realist, not an EFF-style idealist. None of this is actually important in the instant case. If you saw the 15-second video of my drunk friend, you’d understand how truly unimportant all of this is…. but even I can get irritated on principle every now and then! And yes, I know that little precedents build up into horrible bodies of law.)

Best to all who sat thru this rant, and GO GATORS!

OperaFan says:

This may be viable: real world damages can occur

This isn’t the first time a “real world” business has been damaged due to a similar business name to a high-flying Internet company. Believe it or not small businesses use the Internets succesfully too. To be a sucessful small business in the real world doesn’t require a multi-billion dollar acquisition.

There was story a few months/years back about a woman in the mid-west US who had a company with a domain name similar to whichever the current Internet darling was at that time. To give the woman credit, she refused to sell her domain name, as she was on the ‘Net first (by several years), had a well-established business, and the domain name was also synonymous with her given name. Also the Internet darling was far afield of this woman’s core business.

After several years of ever-increasing, astronomic bandwidth bills, having to add personnel to answer the telephone, field press inquiries, etc.; the owner finally decided close her business. I think she closed up shop last year. Sad, but true…

The precedent is there for a viable damages suit.

Amy says:

Re: Re:

“Wouldn’t Utube WANT the traffic? I wouldn’t mind if a million people visited MY site. It would get the word out….”

I’m sure they would love to have a million people that are buying their products visit their site. However, the people that are visiting aren’t looking for tubing and at least some are leaving harassing comments. Thus it is more a nusiance and an expense than anything.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that you have a site that sells teddy bears. Do you want to pay for a million hits from people who hate teddy bears and would never buy one? How about if you suddenly had to pay out $60,000 extra every year for that pleasure?

As to the timing, I’d be willing to bet that they tried some non-litigation routes first and resorted to the courts later. According to the president of utube, there have been no offers of any sort from youtube.

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