23 January 2019Trademarks

Startup asks for relief from Hulu TM claims

Humu, a human resources startup founded by three former Google employees has filed for declaratory relief from American streaming services provider Hulu.

Humu filed the complaint at the US District Court for the Northern District of California on January 18.

The action for declaratory relief asked the court to “vindicate the rights of Humu to continue use of its trade name and trademark for Humu”.

The startup said it filed a trademark application for ‘Humu’ with the US Patent and Trademark Office in May 2017.

In December that year, it received a cease and desist letter from Hulu, demanding that it stop using the name Humu. The letter also threatened Humu with “costly litigation” if it did not comply.

Hulu said Humu is “confusingly similar” to the ‘Hulu’ trademark.

It said both marks begin with the letter “H”, both have two syllables, both share the rhyming of their two syllables though the double use of the letter U, and both marks employ a consonant between the two letters U, with the consonant being the only letter difference

In its claim for relief, Humu seeks declaration from the court that its use of the ‘Humu’ name does not create “likelihood of confusion, cause dilution or otherwise unlawfully violate Hulu’s rights.”

Humu also said its target customers largely differ from Hulu’s. Humu’s customers are large businesses and organisations, while Hulu is a subscription based streaming services provider, with its business at a retail-consumer level.

It added that the two marks are different in meaning. Hulu is the mandarin word for a type of video service, while Humu is short for “Humu humu nuku nuku apua'a”, a Hawaiian name for triggerfish.

Humu also denied Hulu’s claims that the Humu name will tarnish or otherwise harm Hulu’s mark.

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