Well… sort of.
The net is verily abuzz with the news that Internet Giant Google, owners of video sharing Web site YouTube are planning to challenge the use of the name “JewTube” for a Jewish-related video site on trademark grounds.
So are they planning on suing jewtube.co.uk – a site that looks like YouTube but really just points to videos of MC Rebbe The Rapping Rabbi? No. How about jewtube.blogspot.com? Not likely given that Google also owns BlogSpot and could simply delete the offending video blog.
One would think that they are about to engage in legal jousting with Jeremy Kossen, the owner of JewTube.com. That would be an easy assumption to make – CNET used the JewTube logo in its story on the pending litigation. So did WebproNews. Both linked to JewTube and reflected an air of indignation that is sure to be amplified as the story spreads – I mean who is likely to confuse YouTube with JewTube? I can just see it now “Dude! I went online looking for videos of scantily clad babes lip synching to cool tunes and all I got was Shmushi Rosensweig and her friends doing a Jewish game show. What the heck?”
But that’s not what’s happening. The stories list the opposing party as Net Parties LLC – they’re the guys that throw the other Matzo Ball party in New York – check out their one video here on jewcy.com.
So what’s the deal? Why is Google taking NetParty LLC to court? They don’t own JewTube.com or any of its variants. Well… I can answer that question because finding information that is hard to find is what I do. Apparently, NetParty LLC registered a filing on January 23, 2007 with the US Patent and Trademark Office seeking to TradeMark the word “JewTube” for “entertainment services, namely, providing online video clips featuring information and excerpts of networking and social events for Jewish singles” and based on a first use in commerce dated December 21st, 2006 (to see the filing go to the relevant USPTO search page here then select “New User Form Search (Basic)” and type in “JewTube” as your query). That’s kind of bizarre given that JewTube.com was registered on February 2, 2006 and try as I may I can’t find any mention of JewTube in relation to NetParty LLC anywhere (except as related to this story) – but I digress.
The point is that Google is not picking on a relatively small but otherwise fun and useful site like JewTube.com. Google is launching an action against a company it feels has no right to trademark the name JewTube. In doing so it might actually be doing JewTube.com a favor for if the Trademark were to be granted, NetParty LLC might be able to snag the JewTube.com domain name – but that’s pure conjecture.
I’ve had dealings with NetParty LLC before. Shortly after Jewlicious got on the radar, they registered Jewlicious.org and Jewlicious.net. I was somewhat alarmed and called them and they told me that they had registered the domains to prevent others from registering them. And they were true to their word and released the domains to me eventually. So I don’t know everything that is going on here, but so far it’s clear that this is not the proverbial David and Go(oogle)liath situation.
I am certain that Google has no intention of eliminating JewTube – one of the few video sharing sites that one can view Jewish themed videos without the inevitable anti-semitic comments one finds on sites like uh… YouTube.
UPDATE: Here’s another update! I just spoke to Jeff Strank of NetParty LLC. He made the following statement:
We operate two types of events: Our NetParty.com events are business and social networking events geared to all young professionals. Our LetMyPeopleGo.com events are Jewish Singles events.
Through LetMyPeopleGo.com we organize The Ball in NYC which has been the biggest Jewish Singles event in the United States 12 years in a row. In December of 2006, we created a new website for LetMyPeopleGo.com and wanted to display the one video we had from The Ball on the site. For the amusement of our members, we also surrounded that video with five other entertaining Jewish-oriented videos and called the very small section of our site that displays the videos “JewTube” – an obvious play on YouTube that was meant to be cute and amusing (in fact, the videos we show are hosted on YouTube).
In January of 2007, we elected to file a trademark application to register the name for a very limited purpose – to confirm our right to show our videos on our site using the fun name JewTube. And, in fact, our trademark application is specifically only for the purpose of “providing online video clips featuring information and excerpts of networking and social events for Jewish singles.” We had no intention of creating a broader Jewish-oriented video sharing site then nor do we now. Our investment in the name then and now is extremely minimal – its not at all a part of our business model – and we decided from the beginning that if Google objected we would withdraw our application.
But we didn’t think Google would object because (to us at least) it was an obvious joke and we thought there was essentially no likelihood that anyone would confuse a small section of the LetMyPeopleGo.com Jewish Singles site with YouTube.com. Moreover, at the time there were many other pending applications of ” – Tubes” marks without objection from Google, including videotube, sextube, pornotub, gaytube, zootube, tootube, etc. And even YouTube itself was not yet a federally registered trademark.
As for JewTube.com, at the time we filed our application, that site had not been developed in any meaningful way. Archive.org’s wayback machine shows that on January 19, 2007 (a few days before our trademark filing date) the site was simply a collection of sponsored links. A few days later, the site was apparently for sale (January 24, 2007). We didn’t know Jeremy (nor do we now) but from what we saw on JewTube.com at that time, we had no reason to believe that the site would be developed into the site it is today. Despite what your source has said, I’m 100% certain I’ve never spoken with Jeremy, 99.9% sure I’ve never emailed him (I have absolutely no recollection of doing so and my email archives reveal nothing) and 100% sure that we never intended to use the domain name to distribute our party videos. In fact, as you indicate, we only had one such video so the same wouldn’t even really make sense. I would note that earlier this year we were contacted by other parties claiming to have a right or interest in the name “JewTube” including a “Jewish poker” site and MyJewishBooks.com so maybe your source is confusing us with one of them (?).
Last week, Google contacted our attorneys telling us that their objection was not to the use of the word JewTube on our site but to our trademark application, and as such, they asked us to voluntarily withdraw the pending application. All of the blogging about our being “sued” by Google is simply a misstatement of fact. Since we always planned to do withdraw the application if they objected and since our only intention was to use JewTube in the manner we have been, this is not at all an issue for us and we are going to withdraw the application this week. I would imagine that Google is afraid of trademark dilution and although I’m not at all certain that they are correct legally, they are not, in my opinion, “doing any evil” by requesting that we withdraw our application. Moreover, I think people and companies should be entitled to the benefit of their ideas and labor and if Google as the current owner of YouTube feels our registration detracts from that, I can certainly understand that feeling, having been on the other side of it a number of times.
As for JewTube.com, now that Jeremy has developed the site despite earlier indications to the contrary, I think that if he wants to continue to use the name JewTube, he should have the right to it (assuming that Google does not object) because his domain name registration predated our use. In fact, we wouldn’t have even used the name at all had we known that Jeremy was going to create the site that he has. I’ll change the name of our video section shortly.
I hope this helps clear things up.
Hope that clears everything up indeed. What’s funny is that other sites are still reporting the story, mentioning NetParty LLC and displaying JewTube.com’s logo. Oy.