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No one would confuse Reels with Reelz, says Instagram

By | Published on Tuesday 24 November 2020


Although the brands Reels and Reelz are “arguably similar”, Facebook concedes, no one would ever confuse Instagram’s newish music syncing tool Reelz and the US cable TV channel Reels. Ah fuck, I just confused them! Sorry! I mean, no one would ever confuse Instagram’s newish music syncing tool Reels and the US cable TV channel Reelz.

The owner of the Reelz TV channel sued Instagram owner Facebook in August, shortly after the TikTok-esque music syncing service Reels was rolled out on the Instagram app after a pilot in Brazil. The Hubbard Media Group said that Instagram’s use of the Reels brand is “likely to confuse consumers” and “will completely swamp the distinctive brand identity that plaintiffs have built up for their own, pre-existing ‘Reelz’ media services”.

Not so, said Facebook in a legal filing last week. After all, Facebook itself wouldn’t want anyone to confuse its “fun, creative and social-connection oriented” Instagram Reels feature with all the tawdry “celebrity-scandal shows and documentary-style murder/crime shows” aired by Reelz. But no one will. So that’s not a problem.

“The fun, creative, and social-connection oriented focus of the Instagram Reels feature”, the social media giant said in its court papers, “is the antithesis of the dark, celebrity-scandal, and true-crime oriented focus of Reelz channel’s television programming. Instagram therefore has no reason to invite confusion between the two services, and indeed, no confusion has occurred”.

To prove its point, Facebook surveyed some real world people, and none of them were confused, it claimed. “People using the Instagram app on their phones who encounter a feature within the app called Reels for creating and editing videos will not think that it is associated with plaintiffs’ television channel”, the legal filing went on.

And, “consumers watching television through their subscription cable or satellite provider who encounter the Reelz channel network will not think it is associated with Instagram’s social networking app”.

With all that I mind, concluded Facebook, Hubbard Media’s bid for a preliminary induction in its favour should definitely be denied, because “Instagram’s survey evidence alone demonstrates that plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail on their claims”.

We now await a response from Reels. Sorry, I mean Reelz. Nothing confusing going on here.