TikTok sued for trademark infringement over editing tool


Muireann Bolger

TikTok sued for trademark infringement over editing tool

XanderSt / Shutterstock.com

Video-sharing social network TikTok infringed the trademarks of a video editing company when it released a new editing feature, according to a new lawsuit filed at a US federal court.

London-based Stitch Editing filed the complaint at the US District Court for the District of California on Monday 12 April against the social media platform and its Chinese subsidiary, ByteDance.

According to the complaint, Stitch Editing provides editing services for commercials and music videos and owns a registered US trademark for ‘Stitch Editing’ and common law trademark rights for “Stitch” that cover its editing services.

The suit holds that in September 2020, TikTok released an editing tool, called ‘Stitch’, enabling users to clip and integrate scenes from another user’s video into their own, with “no regard for Stitch’s long standing prior rights and hard-earned goodwill in the video-editing industry”.

Stitch holds that it has established an excellent reputation as a critically-acclaimed video-editing house that provides editing services for commercials and music videos. The filing states that the company’s customers include ESPN, Louis Vuitton, Jägermeister, BMW, Heineken, Pizza Hut, and Lego, while its clients in the music industry include The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Ariana Grande.

The filing further held that as result of Stitch’s renown in the industry, it has been approached twice to perform editing work on commercial advertisements for TikTok itself.

Stitch Editing argued that since the disputed feature was launched “there have been approximately 235.9 billion views of TikTok’s infringing ‘Stitch videos’ which have increased at a rate of approximately 900 million views per day.”

It accused TikTok of failing to halt this infringement despite being notified and provided with two cease-and-desist orders.

According to Stitch, it has invested substantial time and resources building goodwill for its trademark and protecting its valuable brand. “Stitch uses both the ‘Stitch’ and ‘Stitch Editing’ marks to identify its services….as such, to consumers, ‘Stitch’ identifies a single source when used in connection with video-editing services,” the complaint stated.

The filing highlighted a number of alleged similarities between TikTok’s use of the term ‘Stitch’ and the UK company’s usage, pointing out that the disputed mark is capitalised and in the form of a trademark, and that the post by TikTok’s official account announcing the feature makes clear that “Stitch” is a brand. The complaint further alleged that TikTok’s post displays “Stitch” in ‘a blocky, sans-serif, white, font’ that mimics the same way the older ‘Stitch’ mark is used in the marketplace.

Consequently, Stitch Editing contended that this similarity and alleged infringing use is likely to cause confusion among consumers who will be misled into believing that TikTok’s ‘Stitch’ editing feature is somehow associated with or sponsored by Stitch Editing. The complaint also alleged that this purported infringement would harm the company’s reputation and cause long lasting injury.

Stitch Editing has sought a declaratory judgment in its favour and a preliminary and permanent injunction, alongside damages.

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