COMMENT: Hosting a document or an application on a cloud based server like iCloud has just taken a nasty turn after a US Company managed to intimidate Google into taking down several Android TV applications run by global TV Companies because of the use of the generic words TV Guide.
Lions Gate Entertainment a global movie Company claims that anyone who serves an application from a US based or owned server whether it be from Google Apple or Microsoft is subject to US law, irrelevant of whether the application actually applies to a US business or consumer.
Apple appears to have ignored their request.
The cross border grab to try and secure income from a flimsy generic name is set to have ramifications in Australia and several other Countries as Companies like Apple set to roll out services like iCloud and Google their Docs application service.
The claim made by Lions Gate Entertainment the owners of a US only trademark ‘TV Guide’ exposes the risk for many operators who are hosting Country only applications on sites owned by the likes of Google, Apple & Microsoft.
It also exposes the US Patents Office who issued the trademark to Rovi the original owners of the name, when thousands of newspapers and magazines around the world were already using the term to describe information about TV programs.
In Australia both Foxtel and Ice TV along with 40 other TV Companies from around the world who host applications on Google and Apple servers, appear to have become victims of greedy grab by US lawyers acting for Lions Gate Entertainment and their subsidiary TV Guide, when Google overnight took down the Ice TV Android TV program Guide after being threatened by Lions Gate Lawyers.
In an email to Colin OBrien the CEO of IceTV in Australia in house lawyers for Lions Gate Entertainment said Google, Inc. is a U.S. company, based in California, and its Android Market is also based in the U.S. As stated in my letter to Google, TV Guide has several trademarks registered in the U.S, the distribution of IceTV’s application under the name “TV Guide” is an infringement of the TV Guide trademark. As such, TV Guide is well within its rights to protect its intellectual property assets.
The problem for Ice TV is that Lionsgate Entertainment does not own the trademark in Australia and according to local lawyers would have little chance of getting a trade.
Colin OBrien who won a landmark Copyright case in the High Court against Channel Nine believes that there now real risks for local Company’s who develop Apple and Google Android Apps for local use and then have them subject to US laws simply because they have been hosted on a server owned by a US Company.
According to lawyers who acted for OBrien in his Copyright case the issue is really about the name and how two generic words TV Guide which at one stage was owned by News Corporation are now being used by a US organisation to demand payments from organisations around the world.
“The word is generic, and has been for several decades, a search of Google reveals this” said OBrien.
Lionsgate Entertainment is owned by a 57-year-old TV veteran named Jon Feltheimer who prior to buying the name TV Guide in 2009, ran a company that was best known for making African American movie comedies starring Tyler Perry and distributing such low-brow fare as the horror series Saw.
Lions Gate Entertainment is a $1.4 billion-a-year movie and TV Company that appears to want to play in the big movie league. On Jan. 5 2009, Feltheimer paid $225 million deal to buy the TV and online remnants of the iconic TV Guide from high-tech company Macrovision.
He now appears to be using the trademark to threaten TV Companies from around the world irrelevant of whether their operations impact his own.
Ironically Foxtel buy the rights to Lions Gate movies.
Australian Companies have got to seriously question the ramifications of putting their companies asset’s in a cloud in the USA now?” said OBrien.