News: The USA Today has a feature today about the Christian religious video website called GodTube. The name of the site and the look of it bear some resemblance to YouTube. Here’s GodTube’s mission statement: “Join World’s largest online Christian community. Watch, share upload Christian videos and join the social network for free!” Instead of YouTube’s motto “Broadcast yourself,” GodTube says “Broadcast Him” (referring presumably to Jesus Christ).
Analysis: At some point, YouTube will have to make some critical decisions about potential enforcement of its trademarks and, possibly, copyrights for its website design. Perhaps going after a religious site is bad PR, but I wonder if YouTube would be allowing third party commercial video sites to use the marks SportsTube, MeTube, ITube, WeTube, or the like. There is apparently a site called “PornoTube,” but I haven’t checked that out yet.
Although the trademark issue is probably the more salient than copyright in this context, I’m not sure if YouTube would be able to prove that consumers are likely to confuse some association between YouTube and GodTube. You would need to do surveys. The similar look of the two sites and GodTube’s play on YouTube’s motto “Broadcast yourself” might possibly suggest a mistaken association. If trademark didn’t work, there’s at least a copyright issue with the somewhat similar-looking websites. The similarity is not that close, so copyright probably won’t work, either.
In any event, I doubt that YouTube’s philosophy would be to start suing other “Tube” video sites. But I would think some in-house counsel has at least to consider it.