Google launched YouTube Shorts two years ago as a direct challenge to ByteDance’s TikTok. Compared to previous projects like YouTube Originals, Shorts has been successful–amassing nearly 5 trillion views since launch in January 2022– but is no stranger to controversy, either.
In January of this year, scammers were found to be ripping videos directly off of the Culver City-based TikTok’s platform and posting them to be monetized on YouTube Shorts.
Now, Shorts International Ltd (SIL), a U.K.-based company, is bringing the fight to the Mountain View, CA tech giant with a suit claiming Shorts constitutes an act of copyright infringement against their 16-year-old ShortsTV.
In a lawsuit filed on June 23, 2022, SIL claims that similarities between YouTube’s Shorts and ShortsTV are so similar that the former could easily cause “confusion on the part of the relevant public.”
SIL also says that Google’s branding of Shorts is “highly similar if not identical to” symbols and icons associated with ShortsTV and that “SIL has suffered and continues to suffer loss and damage” due to the YouTube property. The British company doesn’t just want what it assumes will be a “substantial” monetary answer for any damages; it wants to essentially erase YouTube Shorts as it is.
SIL and ShortsTV are punching up in this fight if profits are any indication. While Shorts International Ltd has only pulled in a total of $17 million in the last two years, Google made around $257 billion in 2022.
In a statement to Deadline, SIL CEO Carter Pilcher said the situation was “saddening.”
Pilcher continued, “A massive company decides to adopt branding that we consider almost identical to our own, and which we have spent decades of concerted effort building into a recognized and respected name in our industry.”
He then referenced prior action by Google to try and invalidate Shorts International’s trademarks. “[And] when challenged, they apply to cancel our trademarks around the world rather than seek an amicable resolution. That is unfortunately the position ShortsTV faces, and we have been left no choice but to pursue this litigation as a last resort. We hope the Court will agree that Google has infringed our trademarks.”
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