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YouTube Complaint Bots re: Trademark Violation - Effective or Not?

Discussion in 'Online Reputation Management (ORM)' started by rocknrollchef, Feb 3, 2020.

  1. rocknrollchef

    rocknrollchef Regular Member

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    Hello:

    Not sure this is the right spot for this question? We own a USPTO registered trademark, with lots of associated online accounts and URL with our brand's name.

    We recently discovered some jokers who are posting YouTube content using our name, but with a very tiny difference in the spelling (which sounds exactly the same as our name). By law, anything which causes confusion regarding the actual owner of a mark is an infringement.

    EXAMPLE: If you called your brand or products "Dizney" or "McDonaldz," you would be hearing from Disney's or McDonald's attorneys as soon as they got wind of it, guaranteed.

    I have notified YouTube about this infringement (and sent our documentation), and their response: We do not enforce trademarks. FYI for the uninitiated, trademarks and copyrights are not quite the same thing; you can trademark a name, but you cannot copyright one - just content.

    And so here is an "in-theory, hypothetical" question: Is it possible to use bots to bombard YouTube with complaints on their content, with the "hypothetical" goal of getting their content deleted "in theory" and their perhaps even their channel suspended (hypothetically, of course)?

    Thanks & let me know

    chef
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
  2. Yack

    Yack Junior Member

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    Have you already contacted the people making the videos? That's step #1. Don't assume they're being malicious. They probably just didn't do enough research. Send them a friendly note and make it seem like you're trying to help them avoid problems later on. If they don't respond, follow up with a C & D that says legally you have to defend your trademark, so you'll have to sue if they don't change the name by x date.
     
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  3. rocknrollchef

    rocknrollchef Regular Member

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    Interesting that anyone would assume we haven't done our due diligence, including a C & D (we have). FYI this is not our first trademark dispute, we've dealt with some very big brands in the past. Our brand appears on Google page #1 with misc. variations/spellings of the name, so there's simply no way these people were unaware of our brand & online content (very public).

    More, their management has been amazingly hostile in response to our professional correspondence, so it's a strange one already.

    And so, we are looking for all methods to shut this all down before it gets costly with lawyers (it's already ugly).
     
  4. Festinger

    Festinger Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    You can also appreciate it if someone is finding time and effort to reply to your question, rather than being a dickhead and reply like this.
     
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  5. SEOMadHatter

    SEOMadHatter Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    He offered you free advice. You want someone to kiss your ass instead cut them a cheque. You're asking for legal advice on a forum so suggesting the first step isn't so much interesting as just par for the course.

    From a technical standpoint - yes you could bombard YouTube with complaints. You might be able to trigger some kind of manual check but as they're not breaking YouTubes rules it's not going to do much. Even if you did get their channel suspended (unlikely I'd assume) they'd get it back after manual review.

    Sending a DMCA out to the channels themselves might get a few to close if they bother to read your message but won't be a clean sweep. Honestly fighting YouTube over this seems like it's going to be more expensive than it's worth.

    if the brand is worth protecting you're probably better to get higher authority videos put up and just outrank the copycat accounts. Even if you put some money into doing that I have to imagine it'll cost less than trying to get accounts shut down which will juts reopen a week later.
     
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  6. rocknrollchef

    rocknrollchef Regular Member

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    Nice language Fastfinger I'm pretty sure I'm not the one being the dickhead here who calls people nasty names for no good reason, but thanks for the kind words regardless
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
  7. rocknrollchef

    rocknrollchef Regular Member

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    SEO Madhatter there was nothing is my post asking for legal advice or ass-kissing, and I just posted something on freelancers looking to PAY someone for what I did ask for. But you did offer some good input on what I actually did inquire about: The YouTube stuff, and that was very helpful thank you
     
  8. RRunner

    RRunner Regular Member

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    YouTube enforces copyright but not trademark. But they do (as far as I know) comply with court orders.

    As you said, you have experience with lawyers and much bigger players. Simply enforce your trademark and get a judgement in your favor that supports your C&D. Present the judgement to YouTube and that should work.

    They may not enforce trademark directly but they should enforce it in the face of a legal judgement.
     
  9. SEOMadHatter

    SEOMadHatter Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    To be honest - you're right, sorry. I was skim reading after a long day you weren't actually that harsh with your reply.

    Glad it helped. I don't do a whole lot with ORM but there'll be agencies out there who will work on outranking the copycat stuff and I'd wager there are some who will try and handle the takedowns for you as well for the short term - might work out cheaper than getting your own lawyer involved.

    Of the top of my head if your brand is well known enough within the niche reaching out to some influencers and offering them some stock to do a video on might be enough to outrank the copycats as well. Certainly, one of the cheapest options I can think of.
     
  10. rocknrollchef

    rocknrollchef Regular Member

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    Good stuff RRunner, and I will explore the copyright angle with YouTube vs. trademarks - although I will have to do some research about what is enforceable or not besides the name (if anything). The infringers are not using our content beyond our name - and I have no problem with any of their content besides the infringement.

    I might also have to register a companion trademark in Canada if necessary - who knows? FYI I spoke with someone at Hostgator.com yesterday about this (they're a US company); They are not the registrar and do not control the infringing related URL, but they said if I submitted the proper documentation they would delete the infringer's content. Maybe the same will be true with the registrar (also a US company).
     
  11. RRunner

    RRunner Regular Member

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    As is the case in most of these situation all the work and cost is on your plate so you need to decide if it is worth the work and expense.

    Often people get away with exploiting TM/copyright violations because the owners don't bother going after them.

    I'm sure it depends on how blatant the violation is, but isn't there a risk in TM law that you can lose your trademark if you make no effort to enforce it?

    That's why Disney sues daycares and fundraisers even though it makes them look like greedy grumps.
     
  12. rocknrollchef

    rocknrollchef Regular Member

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    No problem SEOMH - you were very helpful, and at least you're not name-calling (why do people do that online when they would almost never do that in person? Discuss). My main issue is this: Just like a cooking show or cop show or pawn shop reality show, you cannot copyright or protect the basic format (that I know of). And so it's doubtful YouTube would remove cooking content, even if was a 100% knockoff of ours. It is our BRAND NAME that is valuable and worth protecting, which (as mentioned) YouTube does not enforce trademark violations.

    And BTW - speaking of uncalled-for nastiness, you would be amazed to see the emails I've gotten from the manager of these copycats (they are a semi-famous band). The music business is rough, but the real players don't need to do any namecalling - they just let their lawyers handle the dirty work.
     
  13. rocknrollchef

    rocknrollchef Regular Member

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    Right again RRunner - you sound like you've been down this road before? I know I have - not a fun way to learn about trademark law, but valuable nonetheless. Yes, trademark owners are required by US law to pursue infringement or risk losing their marks - a crappy part of ownership. But these jokers being in Canada changes the game a bit, that's a first for us.

    I was hoping to avoid the nastiness and legal expense by reaching out to them first (and YouTube also), but these jokers and their management seem to be a combination of arrogance and ignorance - it's an odd one to be sure.

    If it gets ugly, I'm going to push out some PR stuff to go alongside it - their manager handles some very big acts you've probably heard of, and he's about as nasty as they come
     
  14. rocknrollchef

    rocknrollchef Regular Member

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    Probably the worst thing about defending trademarks: The only real winners are the lawyers - all the brand owner gets is to continue using their name (until the next infringer comes along).

    Although it's fun when someone spends $ trying to register a mark, and the USPTO rejects it based on its similarity to an existing mark - you can ask Gene Simmons about that one and one of our other marks...
     
  15. rocknrollchef

    rocknrollchef Regular Member

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    For anyone vaguely interested in this... I do believe I will do something that may probably be the most cost effective, and something I should likely do anyway: I'm going to file for a "mirror" trademark in Canada, which looks to be $330 per category e.g just one would probably be enough to do the trick.

    I'm hearing that although Canada doesn't necessarily honor US trademarks, if there's a dispute for a similar US mark in their country to be registered, they give the edge to the existing US owner - based on prior usage. At least, I think that's right?

    Of course, this is all assuming these particular silly Canadians are serious enough to do their due diligence (doubtful). Speaking as a musician myself... musicians aren't always the sharpest tools in the shed...

    But thanks to the peeps here that were helpful with the ideas, and the ones who where just plain nasty can go suck on whatever they suck on that makes them so damn nasty to begin with.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2020