Hulu is going great guns providing a free catchup TV on-demand service in the United States. However, there are now claims that the service was anything but original, with Hulavision issuing a lawsuit against founding partner NBC Universal.
March 2007 saw NBC Universal and News Corp. announce plans for a TV on-demand service. By August 2007, it was known as Hulu, and it went live that same month with private beta testing kicking off before the year was out.
March 2008 saw the site made available to the U.S. public. And the site continued to grow until Disney joined in the fun in April 2009.
Hulu has now grown into the second biggest online video site behind YouTube. And that success has brought with it plans to launch a paid-for premium version of the service, although definitive plans have yet to be announced.
Hulavision Sues Hulu, NBC
A full three years after Hulu was first launched, Hulavision has decided to issue a lawsuit over how Hulu came to exist. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Canadian company Hulavision claims NBC Universal effectively stole the idea for Hulu lock, stock, and barrel.
Hulavision claims that it developed the technology to deliver TV shows direct to computer users. Principal Errol Hula met NBC Universal business development execetive Raymond Vergel de Dios during CES 2010, and the two parties allegedly signed a nondisclosure agreement before revealing his “business model, marketing strategy, product roadmap and a ’shared revenue model chart.’”
Hulavision’s claim states:
“At no time did Mr. Vergel de Dios inform Hula of any potential plans NBC had of its own for the development of any project similar to Hula’s or that it had any interest other than possibly to form a business relationship with Hula if the Confidential Information to be disclosed was of interest to NBC.”
Hulu has since responded to the lawsuit with the simple dismissal, “the case has no merit and NBC Universal will vigorously defend against it.” Of course it will.
There’s no doubting that the name Hulu is similar to the first part of the name Hulavision. But whether that constitutes enough to justify the lawsuit, or whether there’s any merit to the other claims will probably only be discovered in court.
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