A company that shut down its Web site because it was overwhelmed by millions of people looking for YouTube has sued the online video-sharing portal.
Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corp. said the cost of hosting its Web site — utube.com — has grown significantly in the last two months. “We’ve had to move our site five times in an effort to stay ahead of the youtube.com visitors,” said Ralph Girkins, Universal Tube’s president.
The lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court, asks that YouTube Inc. stop using the youtube.com or pay Universal Tube’s cost for creating a new domain. It did not specify damages.
So Universal Tube, seller of used tube-making machines, expects YouTube, about to be acquired by Google for $1.65 billion, to relinquish one of the most well-trafficked web addresses on the internet? We don’t think so. They would much rather pay Universal Tube the $8.99 it would cost to register a new domain name at GoDaddy.com.
We haven’t read the complaint, and we profess no expertise in this area of law. But the lawsuit strikes us as… odd. What’s the cause of action here? It doesn’t seem like a conventional trademark or cybersquatting case, since presumably (1) YouTube has a valid trademark in YouTube, and (2) it properly occupies the domain name YouTube.com. If you’re familiar with this case, please enlighten us, in the comments or by email.
Update: Check out this enlightening comment, which addresses some of our questions.
One more thing. Why doesn’t Universal Tube make lemonade out of these cyber-lemons? Again from the AP:
The confusion took off a couple of months ago, [company president Ralph] Girkins said. The company, with just 17 employees, got 68 million hits on its site in August, making it one of the most popular manufacturing Web sites.
Sixty-eight million hits a month? People would KILL for traffic like that. Why not slap up a few paid third-party advertisements on UTube.com, to monetize some of that monster traffic, and use the ad revenues to beef up your capacity? Or cover UTube.com almost entirely with ads, move the operations of Universal Tube to an entirely separate website, and put up a prominent link on UTube.com referring confused customers to your new site?
Ohio Company Utube.com Sues YouTube [Associated Press via WSJ Law Blog]