Thursday, December 21, 2017

Amazon Filed for Trademarks to Compete with YouTube

It looks like Amazon continues to be working on its own, free video service that will compete with YouTube. On December 5, 2017, Amazon has filed the USPTO applications for trademarks “AmazonTube” and “OpenTube”.  That's because the company’s public feud with Google over accessing YouTube content on Amazon’s devices continues to escalate. Judging from the description of the services intended to be covered by the trademarks ("broadcasting... electronic works via portable electronic devices... and other communications networks"), it sounds like the service is intended to compete with YouTube.

The feud with Google started it suddenly cancelled support for YouTube from Amazon’s Echo Show device, citing violations of the terms of service. Two months later YouTube was restored with an overhauled UI that more closely resembled YouTube’s web interface. However, Amazon’s Echo Show was pulled again a few weeks ago because this time Google was unhappy about the fact that that Amazon refused to sell Google products like Chromecast, Google Home, and Nest devices.

Google then added warnings to the YouTube app on Amazon’s Fire TV streaming devices that the service would no longer be available starting January 1st. After that, Amazon has resumed selling Chromecasts and continues to negotiate with Google about keeping access on the Fire TV. But, nevertheless, YouTube currently remains unavailable on the Echo Show and Echo Spot.

It is unlikely that Amazon intends to roll out a full-fledged YouTube competitor. Amazon had already done something similar when it introduced Amazon Video Direct, a still-active service that lets publishers upload videos viewable by Prime subscribers. One of the reasons Amazon applied for trademarks that closely resemble Google's YouTube marks is perhaps to show that Amazon will not let Google cancel its support for Amazon too easy.

Consumers are likely to be disadvantaged by this Amazon-Google feud because video content will be chosen not because it's the best answer to a particular query but because it's delivered via a separate proprietary platform.