YouView, the BBC-backed internet connected set-top box, formerly known as Project Canvas, is 'likely to fall foul of YouTube's trademarks', according to legal experts.
By Emma Barnett, Digital Media Editor
Published: 1:12PM BST 24 Sep 2010
The set-top box, which is co-owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva, announced its official name as YouView last week.
The box, which is set to launch in the first half of 2011, will introduce a programme guide that goes backwards as well as forwards. The new offering, which during development was called Project Canvas, aims to build upon Freeview’s success and offer a subscription-free TV service with more choice via extra context made available via the web. It will allow people to see what programmes are currently live, alongside everything they have missed in the last seven days.
Richard Halton, YouView’s chief executive, said that the branding of the box deliberately had echoes of the Freeview name, as the company wanted to communicate to consumers that this was the next generation of free to air television.
However, Robin Fry, an intellectual property partner at the commercial law firm Beachcroft LLP, thinks the similarity of YouView and YouTube could cause problems. He said: “YouTube have worldwide registrations, including in the UK, for a wide range of services and products including content, videos and pictures via the internet and other communications and broadcast services.
"There's no doubt that the use of 'You' coupled with the unusual capitalised character in the middle of the word means that many consumers will think there's a connection between the two. The BBC consortium are playing a dangerous game by trading on YouTube's brand. It's a reckless decision to launch a major brand with the risk of an injunction from such an adversary as Google, YouTube's owners."
Google declined to comment on any potential legal action it might pursue.
A spokesman from YouView said: "We are not aware of any opposition from YouTube. The trademarks are not in any way confusingly similar.
"We have done an extensive review and taken legal advice before registering our trademark. We are confident that the proposition and name are distinctive in the market."
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