What's in a name? A tube and pipe company sues web giant, YouTube - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

What's in a name? A tube and pipe company sues web giant, YouTube

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November 1, 2006
by Alan Baker

PERRYSBURG, Ohio -- It's the up and coming Internet portal for personal videos on the Internet, and now a northwest Ohio company has asked a federal judge to make the company pay.  

Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corporation of Perrysburg, Ohio has sued in US District court in Toledo asking that YouTube, Inc. stop using its name.

The problem is with the two company's web sites.  YouTube, Inc. runs the wildly popular video site called www.youtube.com.  Universal Tube and Rollform Equipment Corp. has the web site www.utube.com to sell tube, pipe, and rollforming machinery.  Internet users have been mixing up the two sites, so traffic on Universal Tube's web site went from 1,500 unique users per month to more than 2,000,000 per month.

This increased traffic paralyzed Universal Tube's website until the firm increased bandwidth to accommodate the unwanted nuisance traffic. The company says its cost for hosting its website has increased by a factor of 100, or more. "We've had to move our site five times in an effort to stay ahead of the youtube.com visitors," said Ralph Girkins, owner of Universal Tube, in a prepared statement.

According to a news release from Universal Tube, the domain name utube.com was registered in 1996.  The company also says utube has been used in advertising, trade show booths, and corporate identity. "The Utube trademark has been an integral part of the company's identity for more than a decade," said company attorney Tony DeGidio.

"This is an enormous expense and distraction for us. Contact with our customers has been disrupted so I fear we have lost sales," added Girkins in the news release.  "We have even been contacted by police in Australia accusing us of having child pornography on our website. I resent this personally and this confusion is hurting our business."

"We were there first - by 10 years. Now I see a potential re-branding that could take years to complete," Girkins said in the statement. "I'm not the kind of person who looks for lawsuits, but my business is being threatened by this situation."

According to the company, Universal Tube's lawsuit asks that YouTube, Inc. stop using the youtube.com domain or pay Universal Tube for the cost of creating a new domain that will not be confused with youtube.com.  The company also wants YouTube to cover the cost of creating new corporate identity and marketing materials to support the new Internet identity.

On the Web:
YouTube:
www.youtube.com
Universal Tube and Rollform Equipment: www.utube.com


Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=Utube/WTOL