Shoetube.tv – A New Web 2.0 Venture – And A Possible YouTube Target?
By: DEAN R. KARAU
On February 14, 2008, Powderhouse Productions announced the launch of Shoetube.tv, an online video channel and social community which it hopes to use the Internet to connect women through their passion for shoes. According to its press release, the Shoetube.tv folks intend to offer a “unique blend of fun and fresh original video programs, user-generated videos and photos, and sponsor-created content. With blogs from professional writers and everyday shoe-lovers, forums, and articles on fashion news and trends, Shoetube.tv is the one-stop online destination to sate the cravings to share and shop for the shoe-obsessed woman.”
Carrie Bradshaw must be thinking she’s died and gone to heaven.
Google, however, owns YouTube, and it may less heavenly in its thinking.
Founded in 2005 and acquired by Google in 2006, YouTube advertises itself as the leader in online video and the top destination for watching and sharing original videos worldwide.
Google could allege that Powderhouse’s use of Shoetube will cause consumers to think that Shoetube is somehow affiliated with or endorsed by Google. Classic trademark infringement. Google would have to prove that the marks are similar, the services are similar, and that the services are marketed to similar consumers through similar channels of trade.
Alternatively, Google could claim that YouTube is a famous mark, and that Powderhouse’s use Shoetube will dilute the fame of the YouTube mark. Typically, qualifying a mark as legally famous takes time, lots of time. To be “famous,” a mark must be “widely recognized by the general consuming public of the United States” as a designation indicating a single source of goods or services. Of course, the ubiquitous nature of the Internet might significantly shorten the time needed for a mark to become famous.
Interestingly, Shoetube.tv videos are already appearing on YouTube. Maybe that’s a sign that Google isn’t concerned.
Powderhouse has a U.S. application for its Shoetube mark. The application has been approved for registration by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which will publish it for opposition on May 6, 2008. At that time, Google, if it hasn’t already sent a cease and desist letter to Powderhouse or taken other legal action, has 30 days in which to oppose the application in an administrative proceeding before the U.S.P.T.O.’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
It would be a bit ironic if, after Shoetube appears on YouTube, YouTube takes action against Shoetube. But check back in June to see whether Shoetube.tv and YouTube collide.