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The internet reacts to The Fine Brothers' "react" trademark - and it's not happy

UPDATE: Fine Bros drop trademark claims, pull React World.

UPDATE 2nd Feb 2016: Well, that didn't take long. The Fine Brothers have dropped their controversial "react" trademark claim and ditched the planned React World initiative.

In a message posted on Medium, the pair apologised for sparking the furore that threatened to envelop the Fine Brothers various YouTube channels.

The Fine Brothers have also taken their own videos down relating to React World, which is why the videos embedded in this story below no longer work.

Here's the message in full:

ORIGINAL STORY 1st Feb 2016: Hot on the heels of Sony's attempt to trademark "Let's Play", The Fine Brothers, creators of the popular "React" series, are trying to trademark the word "react" - and the internet is not happy. At all.

Via a video published to the Fine Brothers Entertainment YouTube channel late last month, brothers Benny and Rafi Fine announced React World. The idea was that content creators would license the React format from the company in order to make similar videos. That was the plan, anyway.

Here's what The Fine Brothers were going for:

To say the announcement of React World backfired would be one hell of an understatement.

Comments on YouTube and Reddit were unanimous in their criticism. The attempt to trademark the word "react" was labelled unethical, and the licensing business was seen as a cynical cash-grab.

Now, The Fine Brothers are faced with an internet backlash that has seen subscriber numbers tumble by one million. At one point, the Fine Brothers YouTube channel was shedding 10,000 subscribers an hour.

The backlash prompted an emergency apology video from The Fine Brothers, who attempted to better explain what they were trying to do. Think of it like Burger King, they said. If you get into bed with Burger King you can use their name, menu and all the rest of it. Otherwise, you have to go it alone as an independent restaurant.

The video didn't help.

The Fine Brothers have been fighting fires on Reddit and Facebook since the announcement of React World.

The Fine Brothers claim they do not wish to own the copyright on reaction videos. Rather, React World is about licensing show formats.

Repeated attempts to explain the process on both Reddit and Facebook are falling on deaf ears, however, and subscriber counts continue to fall. There's even a livestream.

The Fine Brothers shot to internet stardom with the launch of the Kids React video series. We've features a number of their videos in the past, particularly those focusing on retro consoles.

Now, though, there are a raft of YouTube series from TFB, including Teens React, Elders React and YouTubers React. So popular is the React format that TFB's lumped them all into a spin-off channel, simply called React.

Critics of The Fine Brothers point to the fact reaction videos long pre-date the company's React format, which, arguably, began in 2007.

The YouTube community has also reacted in anger. Here's one hot take from video game humour channel Mega64:

It turns out The Fine Brothers have already secured a number of trademarks relating to their React videos, including Kids React. And in a Reddit post the company admitted its legal team has sent out letters to shows that used the phrase in their video titles.

What happens next? The Fine Brothers' React trademark will be published for opposition on 2nd February 2016. You imagine there will be plenty of that.

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About the Author
Wesley Yin-Poole avatar

Wesley Yin-Poole


Wesley likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it.

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