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YouView loses High Court battle over trademark

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YouView, the Freeview set top box software venture chaired by Lord Alan Sugar, has lost a trademark battle at the High Court over its branding.

Justice Floyd dismissed an appeal last Friday (November 9) from YouView Ltd against an earlier finding by the UK Trade Marks Registry.

This said that the name of its new platform, 'youview', was "confusingly similar" to an earlier trademark 'YOUR VIEW', held by Total Ltd, a Gloucestershire-based telecoms company.

However, YouView says that it has "no intention of changing its name" despite the ruling, and the court battle continues.

YouView is a joint venture of the major UK broadcasters and telecoms companies, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva. This summer, the company launched a new YouView-branded set top box offering all the Freeview channels, along with video on-demand services.

Prior to launch, YouView TV Ltd had applied to the Trade Marks Registry for the name 'YOUVIEW', presented in various forms including in lower case as 'youview', for use with various goods and services.

Youview set top box
But Total Ltd had earlier secured a trademark for 'YOUR VIEW' in 2009, which it uses as the trading name of an online customer portal.

Total initially opposed YouView's application in the Trade Marks Registry, and on May 30, 2012, the hearing officer ruled that the YouView trademark was too similar to Total's earlier trademark.

YouView appealed the verdict to the High Court and argued that it should be able to use the trademark for TV software, electronic programme guides and the actual set top boxes themselves, claiming that the brand was not too similar.

But on November 9, Justice Floyd issued his judgment dismissing YouView TV Ltd's appeal in its entirety, and giving his backing to the earlier decision of the Trade Marks Registry.

Paul Gordon, a partner at Willans LLP Solicitors, representing Total Ltd, said that YouView had been "fully aware" of the Your View registered trademark when it attempted to register its own.

YouView
"Our client has done the right thing in defending a brand that is pivotal to their business and is legally theirs. We welcome the judge's ruling," he said.

Total Ltd managing director Stuart Baikie said that the firm was "delighted" with the judgment, which he felt 'fully vindicated' its opposition to the 'youview' trademark.

"Our customer base and reputation is built on a winning combination of telecommunications services combined with our unique support systems, of which YourView plays an essential part," he said.

"YourView enables us to deliver services that are outside the scope of our competitors and we have placed significant resource and investment into integrating all new and existing systems under the global YourView umbrella.

"It is the root of our service evolution and development roadmap, so therefore critical to our growing business. We welcome the High Court's judgment."

However, a YouView spokeswoman said that the company would not be changing its branding and does not accept the ruling.

"YouView has no intention of changing its name," she said. "This matter is complex and subject to a number of ongoing legal actions and will be settled in the courts."

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