Last week, YouTube channel The Fine Brothers attempted to trademark ‘React’ in an effort to monetise and license its reaction show format.
The company attempted to lay claim to the word ‘react’ with regards to ‘entertainment services’.This, of course, drew the ire of the internet.
Fine Bros has made its name with its series of react videos, in which the channel gets people to respond to various things. This includes the kids of today reacting to older games consoles like theoriginal Game Boyorthe NES, orold people reacting to Netflix.
Ultimately, the channel was attempting to create React World – ‘a new and innovative way to licence formats around the globe’.
The trademark attempt resulted in a massive decline in the number of subscribers to the channel dropping.
Fine Bros attempted to justify their decision. saying that they didn’t own the idea of reaction videos, and would not be attempting to stop anyone making ‘reaction based content’.
Instead, it says that React World was a chance for people to ‘localise versions of our specific series’ – something that the channel compares to franchised Burger King restaurants.
And, had they kept quiet about it, Fine Bros could have secured the trademark, too. As attorney Ryan Morrison points out over on Kotaku:"When a trademark examiner approves a trademark, like they did here, they put it forward for publication. On the date of publication, the public has 30 days to file an opposition. Had the Fine Bros kept quiet for another month, they almost certainly would have gotten this trademark, as no one seemed to notice it."
But now, Fine Brothers has decided to reverse course. Posting on Medium, the duo apologised, and has removed all videos relating to React World.
This follows Sony trying to trademark ‘Let’s Play’.
Below is the channel’s statement in full:
We’re here to apologise.
We realise 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:
1. Rescind all of our React” trademarks and applications.*
2. Discontinue the React World program.
3. 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
*This includes React,” Kids React,” Elders React,” Lyric Breakdown,” etc. Please note: It takes a while for the databases to update, but the necessary paperwork has been filed.
**Content ID is YouTube’s copyright system that automatically flags content that looks like or sounds like copyrighted content. This mostly flags videos that are direct re-uploads of our videos (which is what the system is built for), but if you know of a video that has been claimed or removed incorrectly, please email us with false claim” in the subject line.