Tired of seeing their copyrights trampled on by video-sharing sites like YouTube, News Corp. (NYSE: NWS ) and General Electric's (NYSE: GE ) NBC Universal are now just a month away from launching their own solution, Hulu.com. However, in a role reversal, customized merchandise specialist Lulu.com is suing Hulu for the exact same reason.
Lulu offers creative types the ability to sell books, CDs, and DVDs through its on-demand storefront, which prints individual copies as the items are sold. Since Hulu's aim is to deliver creative content virtually, Lulu feels that the trade names -- and general bents -- are too close for comfort.
Maybe the Hulu moniker is cursed. TechCrunch pointed out how the name doesn't have the best of translations in certain languages, like the word "butt" in both Indonesian and Malay. The blog had also poked fun at the far-reaching trademark application that aims to cover Hulu's potential to ultimately roll out things like branded pantyhose, pencil cases, and globes.
But where does one draw the line? We've had FoolU.com around for ages. Can The Motley Fool get in on that action? Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) is a phonetic cousin, twice removed, from Hulu. Does the search-engine star get a shot?
I'm not out to belittle Lulu's claim. I'm no legal expert. The company may very well be entitled to bump Hulu over to a new dot-com homestead.
The thing I find most interesting is that the two companies that figured they could get away from all of the rampant disregard for intellectual capital protection are now on the other end of the gun.
Apple is still chuckling about the move at NBC's expense. During Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) media event, Steve Jobs was demonstrating how its new iTunes ringtones can be personalized to identify who is calling.
"That's when NBC calls," Jobs quipped when John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" kicked in.
Hulu? Funny name. Serious business.
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