Reelz claims Instagram’s new Reels video app is trademark infringement

Instagram trademark disputes

This week the ReelzChannel filed suit against Instagram and its parent company Facebook. The case was brought in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota by the Reelz parent company, Hubbard Broadcasting. 

The ReelzChannel, commonly known as Reelz, claims that Instagram is guilty of trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition. They seek an injunction stopping Instagram from using their new Reels feature. Damages are to be determined.

Reelz claims that the feature’s name, Reels, infringes on its 14-year-old trademark. The suit also claims that Reels is likely to confuse consumers who might mistakenly associate Instagram’s new feature with the Reelz brand.

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“Unless stopped, Facebook’s and Instagram’s pervasive use of ‘Reels’ will completely swamp the distinctive brand identity that Plaintiffs have built up for their own, pre-existing REELZ media services,” the complaint states.

Reelz launched in 2006 and has 50 million U.S. satellite and cable channel viewers. Its content reaches millions more through distribution platforms, including streaming, on-demand, and over-the-top (OTP) services on all kinds of devices.

Instagram’s Reels feature, which launched last week, is an Instagram-Facebook feature for photo and video sharing and has no ties to Reelz. Similar to TikTok, it enables users to create and edit short videos and music clips.

During the pandemic, TikTok’s U.S. user-base skyrocketed to over 100 million, but is facing a potential U.S. banInstagram created the Reels feature to attract those soon-to-be displaced TikTok users.

In July a similar case: Instagram vs INSTAGEM 

Instagram is facing it’s own brand battle. Instagram filed an opposition to the registration of the INSTAGEM trademark being requested by Market Organization Inc. The case was filed with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) on July 10.

Instagram attorneys claim that the INSTAGEM trademark should not be approved. 

Instagram also says that its social media platform, launched in 2010, “has continuously used the trademark INSTAGRAM” in the United States. Instagram owns 11 stylized versions of trademark applications and registrations.

Instagram alleges that the similarity of the name INSTAGEM is an infringement. And the similarity of the name and services could cause damage to the Instagram trademark. The suit also claims INSTAGEM is likely to be confusing to consumers.


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