Remember the “mystery gTLD applicant” that had promised to campaign against Google’s closed generic gTLD applications?
It turns out the company behind the campaign is actually Latin American Telecom, one of the three applicants for .tube, and that part of its strategy is a Legal Rights Objection.
According to a copy of the LRO kindly provided to DI this week, LAT claims that if Google gets to run .tube it would harm its Tube brand, for which it has a US trademark.
If you haven’t heard of Latin American Telecom, it, despite the name, appears to be primarily a domainer play. Founded in Mexico and based in Pittsburgh, its main claim to fame seems to be owning Mexico.com.
The company says it has also been building a network of roughly 1,500 video sites, all of which have a generic word or phrase followed by “tube.com” in their domains, since 2008.
It owns, for example, the domains IsraelTube.com, MozartTube.com, LabradorTube.com, AmericanWaterSpanielTube.com, DeepSeaFishingTube.com… you get the idea.
They’re all cookie-cutter microsites that pull their video content from Vimeo. Most or all of them appear to be hosted on the same server.
I’d be surprised if some of LAT’s domains, such as BlockbusterTube.com, PlaymateTube.com, FortyNinersTube.com and NascarTube.com, didn’t have trademark issues of their own.
But LAT was also granted a US trademark for the word TUBE almost a year ago, following a 2008 application, which gives it a basis to bring an LRO against Google.
According to its LRO:
The proposed purposes of and registrant limitations proposed for .TUBE by Google demonstrate that the intended purpose of Google’s .TUBE acquisition is to deprive other potential registry operators of an opportunity to build gTLD platforms for competition and innovation that challenge YouTube’s Internet video dominance. It is clear that Google’s intended use for .TUBE is identical to Objector’s TUBE Domain Channels and directly competes with Objector’s pre-existing trademark rights
There’s quite a lot of chutzpah being deployed here.
Would LAT’s ramschackle collection of –tube domains have any meaning at all were YouTube not so phenomenally successful? Who’s leveraging whose brand here, really?
For LAT to win its objection it has to show, among other things, that its TUBE trademark is famous and that Google being awarded .tube would impair its brand in some way.
But the company’s LRO is vague when it come to answering “Whether and to what extent there is recognition in the relevant sector of the public of the sign corresponding to the gTLD”.
It relies surprisingly heavily on its Twitter accounts — which have fewer followers than, for example, DI — rather than usage of its web sites, to demonstrate the success of the TUBE brand.
I don’t think its objection to Google’s .tube application is a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination.
There is a third .tube gTLD applicant, Donuts, but it has not yet received any LROs, according to WIPO’s web site.