Freeview Australia's FUD campaign turns on Dvico
By Adam TURNER
After deliberately confusing Australians over the nature of Freeview, Freeview Australia has mounted a legal attack on Dvico for using the Freeview UK logo.
The Australian Freeview campaign has been built around Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Rather than offering consumers a wide range of new services, it's basically a rebranding of existing services designed to trick/scare people into buying Freeview-branded equipment that doesn't allow ad-skipping or recordings to be easily copied off the device.
Naturally there has been some confusion with the Freeview UK campaign, not helped by the fact Freeview Australia adopted an almost identical logo. In Australia, the Freeview campaign has benefited from such confusion as people assumed the local service would match the breadth of the UK offering.
Meanwhile Dvico has been selling its Tvix range of PVRs for several years. Admittedly they might not be the best PVRs on the market, but one of their key strengths is flexibility. They're also one of the few devices to work with Australia's IceTV electronic program guide, which was forced to fight off a major legal challenge from the Nine Network.
As a product available in many countries, Dvico's Tvix range naturally displays the Freeview UK logo. It's certainly not the only digital television equipment on sale in Australia to display the Freeview UK logo.
After the Australian launch of the TViX M-6600N Personal Video Recorder this week, Freeview Australia has the nerve to demand that Dvico remove the Freeview UK logo from its packaging. Dvico has not licenced the Freeview Australia logo, nor is it likely to considering it would be forced to disable many of the best features in its PVRs in order to get Freeview Australia certification. This still doesn't give Freeview Australia the right to demand Dvico remove the Freeview UK logo, considering Dvico's PVRs are compliant with the Freeview UK system.
Freeview Australia deliberately created confusion around the Freeview branding and is now using the confusion to harass vendors such as Dvico. Sources tell me Dvico is yet to decide whether to remove the Freeview UK logo from its packaging and materials. This latest attack in Freeview Australia's FUD campaign is yet another reason for Australians to ignore the Freeview logo when they go shopping for digital television gear.
UPDATE Oct 21:
Sydney - 21 October, 2009 - DViCO today announced that it will not be seeking endorsement from Freeview (Australia). Although the products currently carry the Freeview UK logo and all marketing material currently displays this, it will remove that logo from materials and packaging used in Australia to avoid confusion.
Steve Xiao, managing director of Also Technology, the exclusive distributor in Australia for DViCO products, commented: ?The DViCO products offer an exceptional all in one solution for the home media market. We don?t believe Australian consumers would want to miss out on the product?s abilities such as ad skipping which we believe would have to be disabled if we sought Freeview Australia endorsement.?
Freeview launched in October 2002 in the UK and provides free-to-air digital TV channels, radio stations and interactive services through an aerial. Freeview is managed by DTV Services Ltd, a company owned and run by its five shareholders - BBC, BSkyB, Channel 4, ITV and Arqiva.
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But my understanding is that if Freeview Australia succeeds in its registration, it would have a reasonable claim that the Freeview UK logo is confusingly similar, and if that was upheld the Divco importer could be required to obliterate the logo from the packaging.
Trade mark registration is national, not international.