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In a move that’s sure to create a buzz in the digital entertainment world, a social website publisher is suing the production company behind American Idol for trademark infringement and unfair competition over its use of the term “Buzzr.”
Condename Interprises, doing business as Buzzr, filed suit against FremantleMedia North America on Feb. 18, claiming Fremantle willfully infringed on Buzzr’s trademark when it launched its digital broadcast television network, YouTube channel and several websites and social media accounts.
In a Tuesday email to The Hollywood Reporter, Buzzr CEO Ed Sussman said the lawsuit will be a David and Goliath story.
“It’s also a story of how dumb it was for a major entertainment company to risk an injunction that will cost them an entire brand because of the hubris that comes with being a giant company that thinks it can stomp on a start up,” wrote Sussman. “We knew they were going to launch many months in advance and we repeatedly urged them to change their name before it was too late.”
Sussman’s Buzzr is a Tumblr-like social publishing website that launched in 2009 and allows users to create blogs and websites and to discover and share content.
Fremantle launched their TV network, also named Buzzr, last year and Sussman said it’s already overwhelming his company’s marketing efforts.
“For six years, Buzzr.com has been number one, two and three in Google search results for our brand name,” he said. “Now, just a few months into Fremantle’s ‘Buzzr‘ launch, we’re no longer even on page one of Google.”
The suit also claims Fremantle in 2014 took action that caused YouTube to remove Buzzr.com’s YouTube channel, BuzzrWebsites, “in order to direct traffic to defendant’s infringing ”buzzr”-branded YouTube channel.”
Fremantle’s Buzzr YouTube channel is also harming Sussman’s company by sharing “salacious, sexually themed programming,” according to the lawsuit that says these videos have identified the Buzzr brand “as one associated with sex, obscenity and crude sensibility.”
The lawsuit asks the court to award damages, issue an injunction to stop Fremantle from using the Buzzr trademark and either make Fremantle issue corrective advertising to address the misleading impressions created about the Buzzr brand or award damages that will allow Buzzr to do so itself.
Fremantle Media has not yet responded to a request for comment.
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