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YouTube faces UTube lawsuit

Confused surfers trouble pipe makers

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Universal Tube, a company that sells pipe making machinery, has embarked on a lawsuit against YouTube, claiming that the video sharing site has disrupted its business thanks to the similarity in the two company's web addresses.

Universal Tube's website resides at www.utube.com, and it seems that plenty of wannabe YouTubers, fluent in text-speak, but less adept at typing out full words, are surfing their way over to the Universal Tube site by accident.

In the suit, Universal Tube alleges that its traffic has soared from around 1,500 hits in a month to over two million because of vast numbers of visitors looking for "lewd and other disgusting video".

This, the firm alleges, has caused confusion, cost it money, and caused lost sales.

Universal Tube owner Ralph Girkins issued a statement saying: "This is an enormous expense and distraction for us. Contact with our customers has been disrupted, so I fear we have lost sales. We have even been contacted by police in Australia accusing us of having child pornography on our website. I resent this personally and this confusion is hurting our business."

He notes that his company's site predates YouTube's by a decade or so, and says he is asking either for YouTube to find a new home for its site, or for the company to cough up cash to help his company establish a new corporate identity.

Universal Tube is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, but a lawyer acting for the firm told the press that the suit could be described as "multi-million dollar". ®

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