YouTube.com sued by UTube.com

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills

YouTube's popularity is proving to be a headache for a company with a similar Web address. Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment is suing the viral video site recently acquired by Google, according to a news report on WTOL-TV in Toledo, Ohio.

The lawsuit alleges that YouTube is confusingly similar to Universal Tube's UTube.com, which sells tube, pipe and rollforming machinery. Universal Tube said its Web site traffic jumped from 1,500 users a month to more than 2 million, paralyzing the site.

"This is an enormous expense and distraction for us. Contact with our customers has been disrupted, so I fear we have lost sales," Universal Tube owner Ralph Girkins said in a statement. "We have even been contacted by police in Australia accusing us of having child pornography on our Web site. I resent this personally and this confusion is hurting our business."

The lawsuit asks that YouTube stop using the youtube.com domain name or reimburse Universal Tube for the cost of establishing a new corporate identity.

"We were there first--by 10 years. Now I see a potential re-branding that could take years to complete," Girkins said. "I'm not the kind of person who looks for lawsuits, but my business is being threatened by this situation."

The suit comes about three weeks after YouTube was purchased by Google for $1.65 billion in stock. A YouTube spokeswoman said the company declined to comment on the matter.