Popular YouTubers Trademark "React," Find Themselves in Hot Water [UPDATE]
[UPDATE] React World is no more.
[UPDATE] Fine Brothers have canceled React World and dropped all of their trademarks for React.
The original story is below.
YouTube channel Fine Brothers, creators of the popular "React" video series, have found themselves in hot water after they announced their intentions to trademark the word "React." They're doing so for a new project called React World, which aims to allow people to license the React format for their own videos. This news was first reported by Variety last week, while the official announcement video is available below.
With close to 300,000 dislikes and just 40,000 likes for this video, it's not a stretch to say the announcement could have gone better. Now, the Fine brothers themselves, Benny and Rafi Fine, have posted text and video responses with the hope of clearing things up.
In a statement on Facebook, they said, "We do not own the idea or copyright for reaction videos overall, nor did we ever say we did. You don't need anyone's permission to make these kinds of videos, and we're not coming after anyone."
They went on to say that the idea for React World stemmed from their feeling that in fact they were doing a disservice to viewers by having their React series exist exclusively at their studio in southern California.
"For years, we've been trying to figure out how to make these shows around the world ourselves, but the production reality was impossible to achieve," they said. "This led us to now, with starting a voluntary program to license our specific series (i.e. Teens React, Do They Know It?) for those interested in becoming affiliated with our brand. This can be mutually beneficial in a multitude of ways, as we're going to be sharing assets, production bibles, best practices, monetization opportunities, and more. If you are not interested, you don't need to join and can still make reaction videos, or anything you want; this is the Internet!"
If React World is a success, it would in theory lead to a "larger global conversation" and shine a light on new creators. They said they even plan to launch a new channel and share advertising revenue with some creators to help them extend their audience. People are already signing up, they said.
"We are in no way claiming reaction content in general is our intellectual property," the brothers added. "This is purely a voluntary program for people wanting direct support from us, and we continue to be so excited to work with all of you who may want to participate."
In another Facebook post, the Fine brothers said their trademark for "React"--which was filed in summer 2015--will cover the show's format including the "structural elements" like title cards, timing, and graphical elements. It would be these things that licensees would have access to. To make their point, the brothers offered up an analogy related to Burger King, which is operated on a franchise basis.
"If you wanted to start a fast food restaurant, you can start one on your own and possibly find huge success. But if you love Burger King, and want to be part of that organization, if you join, you'd be able to get access to things like menu items and recipes and specific logos and promotional support," Benny Fine says in the video below. "And these are two totally different routes. Same kind of thing here with React World.
In that video, the brothers respond to the "overwhelming" negative response to React World. They apologize and admit that they "completely screwed up" with how they went about explaining exactly what React World was trying to be. You can check out the video below; we'll continue to monitor this story and will report back with new details as they become available.
The Fine Brothers Entertainment YouTube channel has almost 14 million subscribers. Its videos have been watched more than 3.8 billion times.