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To register or not to register… that is the question (Brands & IP Newsnotes - Issue 2)

28 March 2016

Just because you can register your intellectual property, it doesn’t mean that you should. Sometimes attempts to register can have unintended consequences, as YouTube stars, the Fine Brothers, recently found out.

Reaction unsubscribe

The Fine Brothers gained fame for their ‘reaction’ format video channels on YouTube. The brothers created a series of different videos featuring various different groups of people ‘reacting’ to certain events/scenarios/videos. The format proved extremely popular. Thinking they were onto a winner, the Fine Brothers made a number of trade mark
applications for phrases such as ‘Kids React’, ‘Adults React’ and even ‘React’ itself, with the intention of licensing out the marks to other video makers. Fans were not impressed. The Fine Brothers lost hundreds of thousands of valuable subscribers in just a few days. The pair subsequently withdrew their applications and apologised to their fans.

Swift off the mark

The Fine Brothers are not the first celebrities to face negative publicity for trade mark applications. Taylor Swift was criticised for her overzealous approach to trade marks after she issued multiple trade mark applications for her song lyrics. She faced particular criticism for the wide range of products which included, among other things, typewriters, knitting implements, and pot holders. Perhaps what drew most attention was her application for marks covering whips, harness and saddlery.

PR application

It is easy to assume that no one will notice or even care about trade mark applications you make, but this is not always the case. Particularly in the creative industries, fans do
not want to feel unreasonably restricted in their ability to creatively support their favourite artists and bloggers. When considering what to trade mark, don’t forget to consider the publicity aspects too.

This article was published in the Brands & IP newsnotes publication - issue 2.

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