Google Thwacked With ShortsTV Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against Tech Giant’s TikTok Rival

EXCLUSIVE: Google’s dogfight with TikTok for dominance in the shorthand video space has a new battleground – the courts.

The UK’s Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, to be precise, and a potential David in Shorts International Ltd trying to tackle the tech goliath. In what could become long-term dust, London-based parent company ShortsTV filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Google on June 23 over the company’s YouTube Shorts division.

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In the chart-rich dossier (read it here), SILs claim that the branding and promise of YouTube Shorts, which launched in 2020 as a sizable rival to the burgeoning ByteDance-owned TikTok, “is very similar , even identical” to those of the 2008 unveiled ShortsTV.

“In addition and increasingly, when Google uses the Devices in association with the YouTube sign, or the Google Sign YouTube Shorts, members of the public are likely to assume that Google, through YouTube, owns or has acquired the mark,” says SIL. about its owns 13,000 strong titles and AMPAS affiliate ShortsTV.

Last month’s filing comes as SIL is already battling Google’s efforts to “invalidate” the company’s trademarks. ShortsTV, founded by Carter Pilcher, which includes AMC Networks as a minority shareholder in its owner Shorts Entertainment Holdings, has seen Google YouTube Shorts apps run by Sundar Pichai stay on the other side of the Atlantic for now – although this latest lawsuit could prove the pin that is pulled in the global grenade.

“Google has used, in the course of business, without the consent of SIL, signs similar to the Trademarks in connection with goods and services which are identical or similar to the goods and services for which the Trademarks are registered or some of them”, says the injunction filed June 23 and potentially seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in unspecified damages to seek action.”Due to the similarity, there is a likelihood of confusion in the minds of the relevant public,” adds the 14-page document: “At trial, SIL will seek redress for all acts of infringement of Google’s trademarks.”

.  - Credit: AP

. – Credit: AP


As part of this lawsuit, SIL, which owns the ShortsTV brands in the UK, EU, India and America, essentially wants YouTube Shorts in its current form to be shut down and blown up. A result that would surely cede the lucrative short form arena to the flourishing TikTok.

To give an idea of ​​the stakes, YouTube announced last month that more than 1.5 billion logged-in users watch YouTube Shorts every month. TikTok’s latest like-for-like data release had more than a billion monthly users on the dance platform as of September 2021. Ultimately, Google generated nearly $257 billion in revenue last year. Backed by ad sales, TikTok made around $4 billion in revenue in 2021, with that figure expected to at least triple this year.

Shorts International Ltd achieved revenues of $11m in 2020 and $6.8m in 2021 as the company transitioned to an ad-supported model in the US last year.

Google did not respond to Deadline’s request to comment on SIL’s new legal step.

ShortsTV, on the other hand, had a lot to say outside about its filing.

“It’s really saddening,” CEO Pilcher told Deadline of the standoff between the two companies. “A massive company decides to adopt a brand image that we consider almost identical to our own, and which we have spent decades of concerted effort to build into a recognized and respected name in our industry, and when it is challenged, she is asking for the cancellation of our trademarks worldwide, rather than seeking an amicable solution. This is unfortunately the position that ShortsTV faces, and we had no choice but to pursue this litigation as a last resort. We hope the Court will agree that Google has infringed our trademarks.

Adding a cruel irony to all of this is the fact that the tens of millions of views ShortsTV has racked up over its own history are largely on the company’s YouTube channel.

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