A popular YouTube channel called “The Fine Bros” is under fire this week following an announcement regarding the company’s intellectual property. The channel and its two founding brothers rocketed to fame after creating a series of reaction videos, including “Kids React” and “Elders React.” The Fine Bros have over 13 million subscribers and the channel boasts over 3 billion total views. This week, according to the BBC, the Fine Bros announced that they had registered for a trademark in the word REACT under “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.” In a video released by the channel, the pair suggests that they plans on enforcing copyright in their reaction “format,” though the details of their legal claims are unclear.
Given the descriptive nature of the mark, and the wide variety of goods it would affect, it is unsurprising that the announcement has been ill received in the intellectual property, entertainment law, and YouTube communities. Given the popularity of reaction videos online, and the wide proliferation of the format, it will be interesting to see how the mark is enforced. Further, if the mark is successfully enforced, the Fine Bros may inspire more content creators to protect and enforce intellectual property, potentially leading to a less open and creative environment on YouTube. The trademark is currently entering the opposition stage