Uploading Videos To YouTube? You May Be Shut Down for Title Trademark Infringement

Jan 19, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Uploading Videos To YouTube? You May Be Shut Down for Title Trademark Infringement

Jan 19, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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title-trademarking

Here is something that should concern all creatives, and it is the bad side of intellectual property. Apparently, you are allowed to trademark just about any phrase you can think of. In turn, this means that if someone else is using that phrase in their video (or even video title), it can be shut down.

This happened to Devin SuperTramp (previously) when he uploaded his yearly show-reel titled “People Are Awesome 2015 – ULTIMATE DevinSuperTramp Edition in 4K“. The video gathered a massive 28,000 likes and over 400,000 views in the first 36 hours. Then it was gone.

Apparently a company called Jukin trademarked the sentencePeople Are Awesome“, and asked youtube to remove the video due to trademark infringement. The video was replaced with a simple message: “Video Removed: Trademark Issue“. This, of course, came as a total surprise to Devin. Here is how Davin describes it:

We had no idea why it had been removed. We owned 100 percent of the video content, we had release forms for the people in it and the locations. The music that we featured in it was by Boyce Avenue, who has an amazing YouTube Channel that we have always wanted to collaboration with, and they had given us full permission to use the song with the video on YouTube, with ads. Since we had full permission on every front, we had no idea where this was coming from….

…They were able to find out the strike had been given to us by a company called Jukin. They had copyrighted/trademarked the phrase “People Are Awesome”. Because of this, they have the power to shut down a video channel with what seems like a push of a button, without any warning. FullScreen was shocked that they had been so aggressive with instantly taking down our video. They had a good relationship with the company, so that’s why this was such a surprise. When they reached out to Jukin, there was no comprise with the video, since we had titled it a phrase which they owned, which we had no idea. It was simple in the title, never appearing on screen in any way

YouTube video

This kinda struck me by surprise, we actually did an April’s fool’s joke a few years back for trademarking ‘Bokeh’, but little did we know that our joke was actually real.

I have to agree with Devin on this one, trademarking common phrases is something that has a deeper impact than just shutting down a video. It is one thing to trademark something like “Apple Computers Rock!” or “Brandalicious“and something else entirely to trademark “People Are Awesome“, that is just to generic. Next thing you know someone will trademark “I love You” (According to Devin Sony just tried trademarking “Let’s Play“)

Devin concludes like this: “Phrases being trademarked is lame…ha. Not sure how you can trademark a phrase used so often by so many people. There needs to be a website that says every phrase that is trademarked, so we are not surprised later that you can’t have something as a title. Sony last week tried to trademark the phrase “Let’s Play” which would mean anyone who put a video with that as a title, they could take down and claim it as their own… Luckily they got turned down for that phrase, but word on the street is they just tried to appeal it.“, which I could not agree more on.

If you want to see the show-reel, which is now called “My Life Sucks”, though it is still pretty amazing, here it is:

YouTube video

I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Do you think that sentences should be trademarked?

[My Life Sucks! The truth is out there | devingraham]

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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19 responses to “Uploading Videos To YouTube? You May Be Shut Down for Title Trademark Infringement”

  1. Sean Avatar
    Sean

    Amazing..wish I was 30 years younger and able to do all those amazing things.

  2. David Doyle Avatar
    David Doyle

    Sound like a wanky company’s trying to rule the world like the Evil Empire wank off I say ;)

  3. Scott Valentine Avatar
    Scott Valentine

    YouTube is in a very tough position. If your IP rights are being violated, you want them to take down offending materials quickly. But if you believe you’re in the right and someone else is making a claim, it can be maddening to have legitimate work removed without question.

    Trademark law is incredibly convoluted in some ways, and when you throw in copyright, it gets even more difficult to understand. While I generally oppose marking common phrases, it’s nearly impossible to have a standard metric. Lyrics, brand names, catch phrases, etc. are all areas that seem like they should be protected, but then we have absolutely ridiculous events like in this article. Note copyright and trademark are different things. You can’t copyright common phrases.

    It’s a very frustrating situation, and I’m sure it’s one that keeps lots of people from sharing good material.

  4. John P. Hess Avatar
    John P. Hess

    You got to look at it from the other guys perspective… They may have put in a lot of money in marketing that term putting it on t-shirts and what not. On to of that I believe trademark must be defended or else you lose claim to it.

    Lastly there is recourse, just because they can claim infringement doesn’t mean you can’t fight it on YouTube. Depending on what they deal in, Devin may have prevailed.

    1. mike Avatar
      mike

      Except they are trying to steal a term that someone else came up with. It would be like trying to trademark an already existing meme.

      1. John P. Hess Avatar
        John P. Hess

        Every term has been thought of by someone else. It’s how it’s used in commerce.

        I’m sure someone said “I’m Lovin’ It” before McDonald’s but they’re laying claim on use when it comes to big Macs.

    2. catlett Avatar
      catlett

      No I don’t have to look at it from the other guy’s perspective. The question from this author didn’t have anything to do with the money spent, etc. The question posed is SHOULD those types of phrases even be allowed to be trademarked and the answer is no. Market it, don’t market it but common phrases should not be allowed to be monopolized.

  5. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    Let’s all upload videos titled “People are Awesome”

    1. mike Avatar
      mike

      Except for lawyers. Lawyers are not awesome.

      1. mike Avatar
        mike

        Though, one could make the argument that lawyers are not people… so…

  6. Alan Avatar
    Alan

    I don’t believe that any common word or phrase unless associated with a particular graphic should be able to be trademarked. That would also leave the word or phrase available to anyone for use as a stand alone or with a different gtraphic.

  7. petervq Avatar
    petervq

    For anyone interested in this topic on a larger and more in depth-, actual legal and philosophically/morally principled level, Stefan Kinsella’s pages are must read and watch – he is a IP-lawyer and has many years and background in having worked the depths and thoughts on this topic !

    http://www.stephankinsella.com/

  8. JOhn C Avatar
    JOhn C

    Generally a trademark keeps people from using it in the same industry, or if it may cause confusion (thinking your are them). If I open a McDonalds shoe company that’s okay (assuming there isn’t already one) as long as I don’t use the arches or something else that may lead people to think it’s from the same company that makes the burgers (etc).
    I’m not sure if there could be confusion here, or if they are in the same industry, but unfortunately YouTube is likely to take the safe route and remove it. There isn’t enough incentive for them to risk any legal actions.

  9. akspeech Avatar
    akspeech

    Am I correct in assuming that the issue is solely the name of the video? In other words, you could say “people are awesome” in passing in the body of a video? I don’t like the way Jukin dealt with this. It actually sounds like they saw Devin using this phrase, then they trademarked it. Since they already used his content previously without permission, I think they are predators. Since they are more lawyered up, they win. But this is WRONG!

    1. Marius S. Moe Avatar
      Marius S. Moe

      They didn’t even let him change it to people are amazing.

      Seriously

  10. blindexecutioner Avatar
    blindexecutioner

    YouTube should allow you to change the name of videos that are already uploaded in cases like this. YouTube’s draconian take down policy is more who I blame here. Yes the trademark laws are dumb but Google could easily reduce the impact. Same goes with copyright due to music or sections of video. If they allowed you to make an edit to satisfy a copyright claim, like removing some audio or blurring an offending scene, without removing the video the problem would be solved. The trolls wouldn’t have any reason to continue.

  11. drkylecArchvile Avatar
    drkylecArchvile

    I don’t know what the movie actually had in it but this sounds like he was covered by fair use and the company had no right to take it down. Since this was a description of his video in a way.

    Courts have identified two types of trademark fair use which have been held neither to infringe nor to dilute. So-called “classic” fair use exists where another’s trademark is being used for its ordinary, descriptive meaning to describe a product or service. Thus, in a case involving competing makers of permanent makeup, the defendant’s use of the term “microcolor” to describe its products was held by the U.S. Supreme Court to be a fair use of those words, despite the fact that the plaintiff held a federal registration for the mark MICRO COLORS for the same goods. KP Permanent Make-up, Inc. v. Lasting Impression I, Inc., 543 U.S. 111 (2004). Similarly, the use of the word “sweet-tart” to describe the flavor of a juice drink was found to be a fair use of those words and not an infringement of the mark SWEETTARTS for candy. Sunmark, Inc. v. Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., 64 F.3d 1055 (7th Cir. 1995). “Classic” fair use comes into play when the mark at issue has a clearly understood descriptive meaning; the rationale is that the trademark owner should not be permitted to deprive competitors and others of the ability to use words that are legitimately needed to describe their products or services. Owners of more distinctive, less descriptive trademarks are therefore less vulnerable to the “classic” fair use defense.

    Link: http://www.fr.com/news/third-party-trademarks-fair-use-or-foul/

  12. catlett Avatar
    catlett

    No sentences and even common phrases should not be allowed to be trademarked. Also I know this is just a blog post but really? “that is just to generic”

  13. PkGam Avatar
    PkGam

    I’m pretty sure it’s possible to appeal this somewhere on Youtube like you can supposed “Copyright infringements” in your video manager under “Copyright Notices”. But I can’t find wherewhere. Youtube is a maze-like mess nowadays that makes it ridiculous to find things. Like there’s this that comes up when you search “trademark” in their help:
    https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6154218?hl=en
    But that doesn’t help at all, I think.