YouView, the multimillion-pound joint venture between British broadcasters and broadband providers, faces a challenge over its use of the name. The High Court in London has ruled that use of the term YouView infringes the trade mark of another company. Total Ltd, an independent telecommunications service provider, will now be seeking an injunction to prevent any further use of the name YouView, as well as legal costs and other remedies.
In his judgment, the judge Mr Justice Sales concluded that YouView’s set-top boxes and television service, currently marketed by BT and TalkTalk among others and in use by around a million homes across the country, infringed the ‘Your View’ trade mark previously registered by Total Ltd. YouView had tried to argue that the trade mark was invalid and that there was no infringement, but Mr Justice Sales disagreed and comprehensively dismissed YouView’s arguments.
The judge found there was “a strong likelihood of confusion on the part of the public” over the YouView and YourView services.” He said: “There is convergence of the relevant TV and telecommunications markets. The commercial partners behind YouView include telecommunications companies with whom Total competes in relation to the services it offers.”
Lorrin White, the managing director of Total Ltd, said: “As a growing business, Total has always taken the protection of its intellectual property rights very seriously. I am delighted that our determination — and considerable investment — in doing so has resulted in the Courts finding in our favour once again.”
Paul Gordon, litigation partner at Willans, the law firm that represented the company, said: “This is the most significant of the three wins that Total has obtained over YouView. I think Total has shown great courage and principle in pursuing YouView to trial. Total’s rights were plainly infringed and it had to stand firm against a much larger and better-funded opponent.”
“The judgment of Mr Justice Sales has vindicated Total’s position,” he said. “It shows that the Courts of this country will protect parties against businesses such as YouView who infringe intellectual property rights. YouView were made well aware of Total’s rights before they launched the service under the infringing name yet they chose to launch it under that name regardless.”
YouView, which has spent millions marketing the brand, has said it plans to appeal the decision.
In the event that Total were able to secure an injunction, YouView and its shareholders would be unable to use the term. That may not present such a problem to BT or TalkTalk, who might be pleased to promote the service under their own brands.
The broadcasters that originally backed the venture are now backing a new initiative through Digital UK, currently called Freeview Connect. The Freeview trade mark is owned by DTV Services Ltd, which markets the platform.