Google could launch a trademark action against the recently announced YouView service owing to its similarity in name and appearance to YouTube, according to legal experts.
Formerly known as Project Canvas, YouView is a partnership between the BBC, ITV, BT, Channel 4, TalkTalk, Arqiva and Five to provide a free-to-air, web-connected TV service via a set-top box.
However, Robin Fry, an intellectual property partner at law firm Beachcroft LLP, said that the site's similarity to YouTube could cause consumers to confuse the two brands.
The use of the world 'You', coupled with a capitalised character in the middle of the word, might suggest a connection between the services. If Google did object, it would be highly likely to win any legal action, according to Fry.
"Google is involved in litigation all over the world, and would not be frightened of taking action against this trademark. It has an clear interest in protecting its trademarks to stop them being diluted," he said.
Adding weight to Fry's claims is the fact that the Intellectual Property Owner's web site has a page detailing the ownership of the YouView brand with 'Notice of threatened opposition' filed on 16 September.
Google refused to confirm or deny to V3.co.uk that it had instigated the notice of threatened opposition. YouView was also contacted for comment, but had not replied at the time of publication.
Fry said that YouView would be placed in a difficult position in any legal wrangle, as it would either have to scrap the brand and start again or fight a risky action.
However, Mark Owen, an intellectual property lawyer with Harbottle & Lewis, believes it highly unlikely that the YouView consortium had not considered the implications of the name or that the similarity might lead to confusion.
"Consumers are unlikely to be confused by the two brands. People don't think the iPlayer is an Apple product despite the [word's] similarity to the iPad or iPhone," he said.
The Intellectual Property Owner's web site also reveals that the trademark was registered by a private individual called Sarah Eales, suggesting that the consortium was keen to avoid the name being discovered before it was announced.
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