On Saturday, one of YouTube’s largest tech channels, Unbox Therapy, released a new phone case – the Latercase.
Shortly after the release of the Latercase, Unbox Therapy was accused of copying the phone cases made by phone accessory company PITAKA. These initial accusations has now erupted into a controversy where videos have been hidden and copyright claims have been filed.
Much of the controversy has centered around whether Unbox Therapy made the case, copied the case, or adapted a pre-existing case from Chinese wholesaler Alibaba.
Unbox Therapy host Lewis Hilsenteger (Lew) says that he worked with a factory to make the Latercase. In the launch video for the case, Lew uses the tagline: “I don’t like phone cases, so I went out and made one.”
PITAKA accuses Unbox Therapy of copying its cases
Shortly after the release of the Latercase, PITAKA CEO James Zheng accused Unbox Therapy of copying phone cases made by his company.
Zheng said that he and his company want an apology from Unbox Therapy and nothing else.
Front Page Tech host Jon Prosser then researched the differences between the cases and concluded that there are “slight, very, very slight differences” between the Latercase and PITAKA’s cases. However, he noted that the case is very similar to this product on Alibaba.
Unbox Therapy removes videos featuring PITAKA cases
Prosser also discovered that on the same day that Unbox Therapy released the Latercase, 4.5 million video views were also removed from the Unbox Therapy YouTube channel, according to SocialBlade stats.
This means that the day before the release of the Latercase, Unbox Therapy had deleted or made private (hidden from the public) one or more videos on its channel.
Further investigation from Prosser revealed that one of the two videos that had been made private featured a PITAKA case.
A second video titled What “They” say about PITAKA Phone Case also featured a clip of Lew holding a PITAKA case. This video was available on PITAKA’s Facebook page.
However, after Prosser posted his video, Unbox Therapy copyright claimed the YouTube version of this video on PITAKA’s channel and it’s also now no longer available on Facebook.
Clips from this second video can still be found in Prosser’s video.
Unbox Therapy’s past reviews of PITAKA cases
In addition to noticing that Unbox Therapy had privated a video featuring Lew talking about PITAKA cases, Prosser also noticed that the language Lew used when describing his Latercase is similar to the language he used when describing one of PITAKA’s cases.
Lew describing the Latercase: “You should barely notice that it’s on there.”
Lew describing the PITAKA case: “That’s got to be the thinnest case I ever tried onto an iPhone. You will hardly even notice it there.”
Another piece of evidence that Prosser suggests connects Unbox Therapy and PITAKA is an email that PITAKA sent to Front Page Tech asking for a review on the channel. In that email, PITAKA uses Unbox Therapy as an example of a channel that has reviewed one of its cases. The email was sent in August, more than three months before the release of the Latercase.
Lew responds to the Latercase controversy
Lew has responded to the controversy around the Latercase on YouTube and Twitter.
Lew said the case is not from Alibaba and that he worked directly with a factory to make it.
Lew added that he made his videos about the PITAKA phone cases private and copyright claimed the video on PITAKA’s channel because the company was using his video as an ad without permission.
He followed up by saying that companies often misrepresent his content as commercials without clearance and provided examples of other companies doing this.
Lew also claimed that he had private conversations with PITAKA about collaborating and that communication was established but never progressed because PITAKA wasn’t interested in collaborating.
PITAKA CEO pushes back on Lew’s response
However, PITAKA’s CEO has questioned this, asking “when did you contact any of us?”
He also claimed that Lew is “telling lies to 15 million subscribers.”
In summary, Lew claims that he worked with a factory to make the case and that the copyright claims and privated videos were related to the clips being used without his permission. Additionally, Lew says that he has communicated with PITAKA about collaborating but the company wasn’t interested. PITAKA’s version of events is that Lew copied its case and there was no communication between the two parties.