For the second time this year, someone has attempted to trademark the use of what many would consider basic terminology. The first attempt was made when Sony tried to copyright the term “Let’s Play”. This second instance comes from a slightly more humble source: The Fine Bros, who own one of the bigger channels on YouTube. They gained their fame by producing many of the more popular reaction videos floating around and helped to further popularize the genre.
Last week it was announced on the Fine Bros YouTube channel that they planned to monetize and license its React shows, and provide tools and support for others to make reaction videos for their own channel by grouping all of this under the new branding term React World.
In order to do this, the Fine Brothers thought that it would be a good idea to license the very term React. Going over the trademark application, one notices that it says the trademarking of the word React is to apply to: “Entertainment services, namely, providing an on-going series of programs and webisodes via the Internet in the field of observing and interviewing various groups of people.”
This would mean that anyone doing a reaction video who wanted to use the term React in their title would have to go through the Fine Brothers first.
After the official announcement was made, the internet exploded with an angry backlash from content creators and fans of the Fine Bros alike and in response to this, a response video and statement were uploaded. Since that time both the original and secondary videos have been removed from the Fine Bros channel and they have lost at least one million subscribers.
New comment on the Fine Bros video actually made me spit out my chipotle. pic.twitter.com/qgOZfRpD5G
— Davis (@HitchARiide) February 1, 2016
Eventually, the brothers decided to rescind their trademark claims and give an official apology:
We’re here to apologize.
We realize we built a system that could easily be used for wrong. We are fixing that. The reality that trademarks like these could be used to theoretically give companies (including ours) the power to police and control online video is a valid concern, and though we can assert our intentions are pure, there’s no way to prove them.
We have decided to do the following:
- Rescind all of our “React” trademarks and applications.
- Discontinue the React World program.
- Release all past Content ID claims.
The concerns people have about React World are understandable, and that people see a link between that and our past video takedowns, but those were mistakes from an earlier time. It makes perfect sense for people to distrust our motives here, but we are confident that our actions will speak louder than these words moving forward.
This has been a hard week. Our plan is to keep making great content with the help of our amazing staff. Thank you for your time and for hearing us out.
Benny and Rafi Fine”
The damage has already been done though as you can now view any of the hundreds of angry rants that still remain on YouTube and so many other social media outlets.
Are you just finding out about this as well? Do you believe that the Fine Bros should have kept their trademarks? Have no idea who the Fine Brothers are? We would love for you to leave us a comment about it below.