Trade mark infringement: Reelz v Reels

Last week, Facebook-owned Instagram launched a new feature on their app, under the name of Reels. The short video feature aims to compete with TikTok’s principle, as it allows a user to shoot and edit a 15-second video, alongside a choice of background audio. Unfortunately, the latter name appears to highly interfere with ReelzChannel’s longstanding trade mark. The network channel reaches around 50 million homes in the U.S. and its’ parent company, Hubbard Broadcasting, insists Reels will cause confusion amongst consumers.

Furthermore, it has been argued that ReelzChannel is one of the last “truly independent television networks” which can have its brand image damaged, as a result of Instagram choice of name for their new addition. Therefore, Reelz is suing Instagram/Facebook for trade mark infringement, trade mark dilution and unfair competition. The network is also seeking an injunction to ban the social media giants from utilising the name, as well as damages which have not yet been specified.

It goes without saying that the resemblance between the two marks remains high. Instagram is one of the most popular social media outlets, with around 1 billion current users. Therefore, it’s release of the feature to 50 different countries could be sure to cause some sort of confusion in the U.S., in relation to the network’s trade mark. Instagram began testing Reels in Brazil late last year. However, they discovered that users did not want their hard work to simply be a story highlight and therefore disappear after a 24-hour period. The feature now allows users to keep their content uploaded, without any time limit.

Be sure to look out for any further updates on Reelz v Reels, on our reading room. In the meantime, if you have any queries about a matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Lawdit team today.

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