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Animation studio hits UK children's show 'Peppa Pig' with unfair competition lawsuit

By Luu Quy   October 13, 2022 | 12:00 am PT
Vietnamese animation studio Sconnect has filed a second lawsuit against the British owner of children's series "Peppa Pig" for unfair competition, claiming losses of nearly US$292,000 as a result.

It filed a lawsuit against eONE in the People's Court of Hanoi for illegal use of trademarks and images of cartoon characters from its "Wolfoo."

A spokesperson for Sconnect said Wednesday that the company and the Vietnam Digital Communications Association (VDCA) had also demanded intellectual property rights protection from online streaming services, including YouTube.

"Wolfoo" is an English-language YouTube preschool animated web series about a young wolf and his anthropomorphic family.

British preschool TV show "Peppa Pig" features an anthropomorphic piglet and her family.

Both animated series have amassed tens of millions of subscribers and billions of YouTube views.

Peppa Pig and Wolfoo animated characters. Photo courtesy of Entertainment One and Sconnect

"Peppa Pig" and "Wolfoo" animated characters. Photo courtesy of Entertainment One and Sconnect

A conciliation session took place at the end of September in Hanoi without any participation by eOne.

In January the UK company had sued Sconnect in Russian and British courts over intellectual property infringement, claiming "Wolfoo" is a "reworked" version of the "Peppa Pig" characters.

Following an independent review, in July Russian experts rejected this claim and the Moscow City Court terminated eOne’s suit against Sconnect.

Immediately eONE withdrew all claims.

But during this period Sconnect found that many Wolfoo episodes were still removed from YouTube and some video sites in China.

It said this was because eONE had used an unresolved lawsuit to copyright "Wolfoo" videos.

The trial in Britain was originally scheduled to begin in July but has been delayed until November.

"But eONE relies on [a dismissed case] to protect its intellectual property and flag ‘Wolfoo,’ and YouTube accepts [this]," the Sconnect spokesperson said.

"[YouTube] has regulations to prevent abuse like eONE’s. All documents related to evidence and court rulings have been submitted, but YouTube still agrees to eONE's copyright infringement demand."

Sconnect said in a document it provided to the Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority that copyright issues had led certain YouTube channels to turn off monetization, causing it losses of over $146,000.

It also claimed losses of more than $153,000 after some Sconnect's channels had their ability to upload videos disabled, and said their credibility and ability to work with others were also damaged as a result.

A Sconnect employee during the making of Wolfoo. Photo courtesy of Sconnect

A Sconnect employee during the making of a "Wolfoo" episode. Photo courtesy of Sconnect

In its suit against eONE for "illegally exploiting the Wolfoo trademark in Peppa Pig films" it said the tag "Wolfoo" has been sneakily utilized in a lot of Peppa Pig videos on YouTube.

On YouTube, tags are descriptive keywords that channel owners can add to videos to help viewers find content.

Sconnect said between April 2018 and July 2022, the tag was used in at least 53 episodes of "Peppa Pig."

Thus "Peppa Pig" videos with the tag "Wolfoo" will surface in search results, it said.

YouTube has yet to make an official statement, respond to the allegations or appear at the Hanoi court.

Sconnect, established in 2014, has 19 Wolfoo-related YouTube channels, which have a combined 56 million subscribers and 18 billion video views.

Peppa Pig developed by British animators first aired in 2004.

 
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