Disruptive technologies do exactly what the name suggests – they disrupt an industry norm. For example, and for the purposes of this article, Netflix disrupted rental services, as well as television watching habits. Instead of going to Blockbuster or turning on a cable box, users typically resort to Netflix’s library to watch TV. However, disruptive technologies often end up resembling the tech they put out of business, in a technological circle of life. Now, Netflix appears to be joining the club of reverting back to the disrupted technology. Reports surfaced earlier this week that Netflix launched a television channel in France.
Branded as Netflix Direct, the idea of the channel is to provide a randomized, preselected stream of television shows and movies. One of the biggest user complaints about Netflix’s typical streaming service is that no such “random” button exists. If a user wants to bounce around from show to show, the user must make those choices manually. In that way, Netflix does not resemble any typical television network, which became a selling point of the service. Now, however, users long for a time when their television decided what they were watching. Call it streaming anxiety or a desire for variety; regardless, users in France can now allow Netflix’s television channel to decide their programming for them.
Netflix Television Channel Trademark Implications
If the Netflix Direct television channel catches on, Netflix will likely file for trademark protection on the mark. However, to date, no application for NETFLIX DIRECT appears to exist; this indicates that Netflix may still be testing the waters on the idea. Netflix, Inc. owns over 25 US trademark applications and registrations, showing that the company believes strongly in its intellectual property. While the term “direct” appears in over 3,000 trademark applications and registrations, Netflix shouldn’t struggle to register the mark. Adding DIRECT after the well-known NETFLIX mark makes it unlikely that Netflix’s television channel name receives a rejection. As such, Netflix provides a textbook case for building brand recognition through tech disruption and unique intellectual property protection.
As soon as you settle on a name and ensure that no conflicting marks exist, you can apply for trademark protection. You do not have to wait until the mark is in use.
Someone could apply for the mark, but the application is extremely unlikely to be successful. Netflix’s broad IP portfolio corners the market for them on NETFLIX-based marks.