Legal, Local, Management, Website Strategy

Business owner issues warning after YouTube trademark battle

Michelle Hammond /

A Queensland-based technology company has issued a warning to start-ups that use YouTube, claiming that the online video giant terminated the company’s account over an alleged trademark infringement.

 

Tracknology, which develops mobile applications and web software, says its YouTube account was terminated, with the company banned from creating another account.

 

“The account was created in late 2011 and deleted in early February,” Tracknology founder Stephen Walsh says.

 

According to Walsh, his company owns the “Tracknology” trademark, and there is no other conflicting trademark internationally.

 

“But YouTube decided otherwise, terminated [our] YouTube channel on the basis that we allegedly infringed on our own trademark,” he says.

 

“YouTube says we are not the legal owner of intellectual property of the trademark Tracknology, although the name is clearly and legally registered as a trademark under Australian law.”

 

Walsh says the problem arose after Tracknology discovered another YouTube channel using its trademark and logo, and notified YouTube via the standard processes.

 

“All the evidence was provided to YouTube, including proof of registration and ownership of the Tracknology trademark, links to the offending videos and… supporting information,” he says.

 

“But, for one reason or another, an email arrived advising us that it was our Tracknology channel and account that had been terminated for breach of trademark, instead of taking action against the other user account infringing our intellectual property.”

 

YouTube could not be reached for comment. But according to Walsh, it took three months before YouTube recognised Tracknology’s trademark and reinstated its YouTube channel.

 

“It was only through the involvement of Google Australia that the issue was resolved at all, otherwise it was being ignored.” Walsh says.

 

“But the battle continues, and we’re still trying to get YouTube to take down other content that infringes our trademark.”

 

“If Tracknology was an international brand or a household name, our channel would have been restored quite quickly or would not have been taken down.”

 

Walsh says the incident should serve as a timely reminder for businesses to ensure their brand and trademarks are properly represented on major sites such as YouTube.

 

“YouTube acted as judge, jury and executioner, did not hear any defense argument, provided no avenue for appeals and provided no response when presented with the facts” he says.

 

“It should have never got to a stage of threatening legal action for YouTube to recognise they have a legal obligation under Australian law to recognise Australian trademarks.”

 

Tracknology recently had a similar issue with Facebook, claiming Facebook registered an additional Tracknology page to theirs, but the matter was dealt with within 48 hours.

 

“Since we started communication with Facebook, it’s been an entirely different experience – at opposite ends of the spectrum,” Walsh says.

 

“Facebook looked at it and said, ‘You’re 100% right’… Facebook recognised the IP is ours and promptly removed [the offending page] straight away.”

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