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Comcast Seeks to Strip 'MyTVPal' of Trademark

MSO Alleges Internet Service Was Streaming Live TV Without Authorization 1/16/2013 7:16 AM Eastern

Comcast petitioned the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to cancel the trademark of MyTVPal -- a website claiming it provided free streams of thousands of TV channels over the Internet -- with the cable operator arguing the service knowingly distributed unauthorized access to TV content and also that the name could be confused with the MSO's MyTV Choice low-cost TV packages.

The “MyTVPal” trademark is registered to BB Entertainment LLC, which has a San Francisco mailing address, according to the website’s most recent domain-name registration record.

Comcast, in a Jan. 10 filing with the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, alleged that BB Entertainment “knew that it was not making lawful use of the MYTVPAL Mark at the time of the filing of its application, because the streaming services it offers in connection with the MYTVPAL Mark were and are being provided without the necessary authorization of content providers.”

MyTVPal, in an emailed statement, declined to comment "on legal issues pending." But the company also said that it "doesn't stream any illegal streams on our servers. We do offer a directory service pointing to third-party websites [which] our users submitted to us and you can access some streams on a 3rd party website.  It is no different from what Google and thousands of other website[s] do."

According to MyTVPal.com, U.S. channels that have been accessible through the service included Bloomberg TV, QVC, “NBC News” and various local TV stations.

BB Entertainment filed for the MyTVPal trademark in November 2007 and the USPTO registered it in July 2008. Comcast filed its application to register “MyTV” on March 28, 2000, and the USPTO issued the certificate of registration for the trademark on May 26, 2009.

In late 2011, Comcast launched MyTV Choice, which provides local TV channels plus 32 cable networks starting at $24.95 per month with a la carte “theme packs” for children’s, news, entertainment and lifestyle, and movies.

Given that “MYTVPAL begins with MYTV and MYTV is the dominant portion of the MYTVPAL mark,” Comcast said, “the respective marks are highly similar aurally and visually and are similar in meaning.”

As a result, Comcast’s petition continued, “consumers are likely to believe that either (i) Registrant BB's services originate with, are affiliated with, or are endorsed or sponsored by Petitioner Comcast, or (ii) Petitioner Comcast and Registrant BB are affiliated or associated entities.”

For good measure, Comcast added in its petition to the USPTO that, “In the event Registrant BB is deemed to have made a bona fide lawful use of the MYTVPAL Mark at the time of its application, upon information and belief, BB subsequently ceased using and abandoned its rights in the MYTVPAL Mark in connection with communications services, namely, transmitting streamed sound and audio-visual recordings and material on the Internet.”

Comcast’s filing can be accessed here: http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/ttabvue-92056648-CAN-1.pdf.

The name “MyTV” also is used as shorthand to refer to MyNetworkTV, the broadcast syndication service owned by News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment Group.

 

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April