I’m not sure if you guys follow YouTube at all, but what is happening to TheFineBros is what happens when you make the Internet mad.
TheFineBros are most well-known for their “react” videos (Kids react, teens react, et cetera). Well, they recently tried to “license” their format, which a lot of people took as blatant money grubbing, corporatization and an attempt to “copyright” reaction videos.
And the Internet responded swiftly.
They’ve lost 10s of thousands of subscribers. Check out the likes vs. dislikes on these two videos and read the comments. It’s quite funny, though I also feel bad for them to a degree because their lost subscribers are like a guy’s stocks, which he’s invested tons of money into, tanking.
And for a live feed of their dropping subscriber count:
This has made quite a bit a of news as well. Just Google News The Fine Bros.
I predict a resounding loss for TheFineBros and egg all over the face of the USPTO for being dumb enough to grant the trademark in the first place.
ETA: BTW, I’ve trademarked Unboxing™, so I expect to set up my own licensing scheme for that soon. And as soon as they grant my trademark for Internet/Text Acronyms™, you’ll be able to license things like BTW, WTF and ROFLCOPTER for use in your own texts, web posts, holiday greeting cards, etc.
No, from what I understand the Fine Bros have a legitimate claim to own the trademark. They created a particular brand and the trademark office was right to grant them protection for that brand trademark.
What’s wrong is the Fine Bros are claiming ownership of the format of react videos based on this trademark. They are apparently arguing that anyone who posts react videos online must have a licensing deal with them.
IANAL but my understanding is they are wrong. They can prohibit people from posting videos (react or otherwise) using their trademarks. But they have no ownership of the react video format and no legal right to prohibit other people from posting such videos.
The problem is that the trademark they were granted was simply for the word “React”. It would be like Lysol trademarking the word “clean”. So the USPTO screwed up by letting them trademark a single, generic, descriptive word, and they’re screwing up by somehow believing it means they own the concept, not just the word.
Hmmm. Yeah, now everything I’m reading seems to indicate that they trademarked the word “react” and not “____ React!”; in that case, I’m back to thinking that the USPTO screwed up AND that TheFineBros are a couple of douchenozzles.
I’ve been a longtime subscriber of the Fine Bros React shows and have mentioned them here a couple of times; I’ve watched some of the Kids from the original show move to Teens React. I know it’s not very “internet” of me to try and be reasonable, but I’m curious: was there a better way to handle this? By “this,” I mean essentially franchise their React brand.
All of the responses seem to be based on “they’re trying to make money deliberately and must be destroyed!” It’s okay if PewDiePie gets rich playing video games because he wasn’t initially trying to make money. That works for what he does or vlogging like Tyler Oakley and Lilly Singh but seems problematic when, like The Fine Bros, you get into original content creation and have actual production staff. The only people I can think of right off the bat in a similar boat are Peter and Lloyd of ERB and they use their show to generate revenue outside of Youtube (somewhat to the detriment of their channel, imo).
So, taking away the option if them not doing ReactWorld at all, how could they realistically have pursued their goal without the backlash they’re getting now?
I’ve never heard of these YouTube videos and am now wondering, is it just showing videos to someone and showing how they react to the video? Or are these the guys doing things like the guy dressed like an Arab dropping a backpack and running then showing the people it was dropped in front of run away?
The issue isn’t them making money. Nobody that doesn’t already have a grudge against online advertising had any issue with them making ad revenue, or even getting a Patreon or whatever if they wanted. Nor would it have been a problem for them to Trademark specific, identifiable brands such as the logo, font, and design of their “Elders React” graphic, and license out those art assets and artistic support to a limited number of other channels in other regions or covering different topics. That’s perfectly normal, unremarkable brand expansion.
The issue comes in with the strange racketeering they’re getting into where they seem to think they own the banal format and concept of “teenagers getting excited about The Fault In Our Stars trailer”, and effectively end up saying “that’s a nice reaction video ya got there. Me and my bro here, we’s really likes ya stuff, it’d be a right shame if somethin’ was to happens to it if ya catch my drift.” Further, their licensing scheme is a feeding frenzy, they cannot provide any meaningful branding or support to the people they license because literally anyone making a reaction video can join the network.
They’re basically just trying to get free money from, largely, their own fans who want to make reaction videos.
I recommend watching the Folding Ideas video I linked above, it’s the distinction between licensing out “Britain’s Got Talent” which is a specific format and stage design, as opposed to simply attempting to protect the format of a “talent show”.
It’s an interesting question. I’ve sort of peripherally followed this story without much interest, but it seems to me like the move is at least seen as fairly douche-y no matter what the context. It’s hard to not see it as them saying, “OK, if you want to make a video like ours, you can. If you pay us.” It’s been exacerbated by reports (not sure which or how many are true) that YouTube has started blocking similar videos that have been around for a long time because they’re too similar to their newly trademarked format. And they earned a lot of bad will a couple of years ago when they encouraged their followers to “go after” Ellen Degeneris when she did a bit filming kids confronted with old technology, even though her format was certainly nothing like theirs.