TikTok Sued for Infringement of “Stitch” Trademark for Video Editing

Stitch Editing Ltd. filed a complaint Monday in the Southern District of California alleging that defendants TikTok Inc., TikTok LLC, TikTok Ltd., and parent company BytDance Ltd. (collectively, TikTok) infringed its trademark by calling a video editing feature “Stitch.”

According to the complaint, Stitch Editing owns registered trademark Stitch Editing and has common law trademark rights in Stitch Editing and Stitch (collectively, the Stitch mark) covering video editing, among other areas. Stitch Editing claimed that it is “a critically acclaimed video-editing house that provides editing services for commercials and music video … (i)ts commercial brand customers include: ESPN, Louis Vuitton, Jägermeister, BMW … (and its) music video customers include … The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande,” among others.

Allegedly, in September 2020, social media video company TikTok “released an editing feature that it branded ‘STITCH,’ with no regard for Stitch’s longstanding prior rights and hard-earned goodwill in the STITCH Mark in the video-editing industry.” Stitch Editing averred that TikTok has continued to use the Stitch mark “for its video-editing services,” despite the fact that Stitch Editing’s Stitch marks cover “editing of … internet videos.” The plaintiff claimed that since this feature was launched “there have been approximately 235.9 billion views of infringing Stitch videos … increasing at a rate of approximately 900 million views per day.” Stitch Editing proffered that TikTok has not stopped this purported infringement despite being notified of the infringement and provided with two cease-and-desist orders.

The plaintiff proffered that TikTok uses the term “Stitch” capitalized “and in the form of a trademark.” Stitch Editing noted that TikTok’s post “announcing the feature makes clear that ‘Stitch’ is a brand, by capitalizing its use and pronouncing: ‘Now introducing STITCH! Make the ultimate collab with your fav creators.’” Furthermore, Stitch Editing claimed that TikTok’s post “displays ‘Stitch’ in a blocky, sans-serif, white, font that mimics the same way the STITCH Mark is used in the marketplace,” as exemplified below:

A comparison of TikTok and Stitch’s use of the mark from the complaint.

Stitch Editing added that each video that uses the Stitch feature now includes the hashtag “#stitch.” Consequently, Stitch Editing averred that this similarity and alleged infringing use is likely to cause consumer confusion, mistake or deception that TikTok’s Stitch editing feature is somehow associated or sponsored with Stitch Editing, or vice versa, which is false. Stitch Editing contended that it has invested significant time and resources to build goodwill in the Stitch marks, which is “put at risk by TikTok’s appropriation and use of the Infringing Mark.” The plaintiff alleged that this purported infringement will harm its reputation and cause injury to the plaintiff.

TikTok is accused of trademark infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, unfair competition under California Business and Professions Code, and common law false designation of origin and unfair competition.

Stitch Editing seeks declaratory judgment in its favor, a preliminary and permanent injunction, an accounting and award for profits, damages, for TikTok to pay for corrective advertising, pre- and post-judgment interest, restitution, an award for costs and fees, and other relief.

Stitch Editing is represented by Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.