Here are today’s top developers, according to monthly active users:
At first glance, nothing on this list seems unreasonable. King.com has been dominating the Facebook application market for a while now. Zynga, Microsoft, and YouTube have consistently ranked as top developers for the past month. However, the developer that calls itself YouTube is not YouTube at all, and Google seems to have finally caught on.
The YouTube app on Facebook has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the past month, going from about 8 million MAUs to 53 million (click graph to enlarge):
However, the app (which goes by the name of YouTube) and the developer (also called YouTube) are not at all affiliated with the video site. The app curated YouTube videos on an unrelated domain and allowed Facebook users to watch videos through it.
“It may be permissible to have an app that references the trademark,” said Luke DeMarte, an attorney at Michael Best & Friedrich, who specializes in trademark and copyright law. “(Taking) the logo probably oversteps it.”
According to DeMarte, the easiest way for Google to deal with the issue as the trademark owner is to complain to Facebook that the app violated the social network’s third-party trademark rules. That seems to be exactly what Google has done, as the app is now inaccessible.
“But there’s a bigger issue,” said DeMarte. “They’re still using the YouTube trademark pretty prominently, and I think there could be some confusion in people’s minds on whether there could be some connection with YouTube.”
Indeed, the domain where the videos are being curated was still live at the time of this writing, and was still using the YouTube logo:
While there is nothing wrong with curating videos, what these developers are doing goes beyond that, explained DeMarte. Even though the app was taken down by Facebook, users who have already downloaded it can still access it. It’s safe to assume that a significant portion of the app’s user base thinks that it is affiliated with YouTube.
According to DeMarte, Google could appeal to the site’s Web host. If the domain is in violation of the host’s terms and conditions, Google could ask the host to take down the website.
What is really notable about this whole ordeal is that a fake YouTube app managed to amass 53 million MAUs. A developer that is not affiliated with YouTube, using YouTube’s name and logo, propelled itself to the top of the charts, right on up there with heavyweights like King.com and Zynga. It is still gaining MAUs, despite being inaccessible to new users:
With YouTube’s increased Google Plus integration, it seems unlikely that the video-sharing site would develop an app for Facebook, a Google Plus competitor. However, the fact that this app has achieved such huge growth speaks to a high demand for such a product on Facebook. Would YouTube consider developing its own legitimate app to satisfy these users?
At the time of this writing, YouTube has not responded to our request for comment. We’ll update this post if we hear back.
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