Netflix Inc. has sent a cease and desist letter to a paid service that allows users to bypass Netflix’s geographic restrictions and access movies and television shows they wouldn’t normally be allowed to see.

The service, Turboflix.com, is being run by Turbo VPN Inc. and is the new venture of Ontario-based entrepreneurs that are in the process of shutting down crypto-currency exchange Vault of Satoshi. Vault of Satoshi co-founder Mike Curry told crypto-currency  news site Coindesk in early January that he and his business partner were closing the exchange to focus on Turboflix full-time, because of the rapid growth of the service.

But Netflix may want to throw a wrench into those plans. The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company has sent a cease and desist letter to Turboflix “both for mimicking our logo and for promoting ways to circumvent content protections,” Netflix’s director of corporate communications and technology Cliff Edwards tells ITBusiness.ca in an email.

Edwards declined to comment further on the issue, saying Netflix doesn’t discuss legal matters.

An example of the marketing language on Turboflix.com.
An example of the marketing language on Turboflix.com.

ITBusiness.ca attempted to contact Curry for comment on this story, but he didn’t respond. According to his interview with Coindesk, Curry launched Turboflix about six months ago and attracted 10,000 users to the beta program. Currently, the Turboflix Facebook page has more than 20,700 likes.

The service charges users $3.99 per month to access a virtual private network (VPN). By connecting to the VPN, users can trick Netflix into showing them content that would normally only be available in other countries. Because movie and television distributors sell licenses for content by country, Netflix has to restrict what content its users can access accordingly. For example, Canadians can access about half the number of movies and TV shows compared to American Netflix users.

Using either a free or paid-for VPN to access the U.S. catalogue is popular in Canada. A July 2014 poll of 2,002 Canadians by Media Technology Monitor found that 32 per cent of respondents were Netflix users, and that one in three of those Netflix users said they had figured out how to access content meant for U.S. subscribers.

Sign up for a free trial on Turboflix and you’ll receive instructions on how to change the domain name service (DNS) settings on your PC, video game console, tablet or smartphone. 

 

Netflix has recently gone on the record saying that users who bypass geographical blocks are violating the site’s terms of service. But it denied that it was making a new effort to crack down on users who were doing so.

Despite the cease and desist letter, Turboflix could continue to operate its business as usual, according to technology lawyer Monica Goyal, founder of Aluvion Law. While there is nothing illegal about offering a VPN service, the basis for Netflix’s legal argument may be focused on the marketing language used on Turboflix.com.

“Just by using the word Netflix on the website, they are using that trademark to sell a service,” she says. That would also be a violation of Netflix’s terms of service agreement.

Netflix’s claim of the similarity of Turboflix’s logo to their own could also be tenuous, she says. While a company can trademark both the words and design around its logo, there may be enough differences with the Turboflix logo to set it apart.

“It’s not a clear cut case,” she says. “You’d think there might be something more they could grab onto.”

A comparison between the Netflix logo and the Turboflix logo.
A comparison between the Netflix logo and the Turboflix logo.

While the Turboflix founders are based in the area south-west of Toronto, Turbo VPN Inc. is incorporated in Barbados, according to its terms of service. Barbados allows Canadian-owned enterprises to operate there at a lower tax rate by incorporating under its International Business legislation.

In an email to Vault of Satoshi users, the exchange stated it would be closing on Feb. 5 and all cash must be withdrawn before then. New deposits will not be accepted, and cash funds held after March 15 will be unobtainable.

Beginning March 15, cryptocurrency funds still deposited with the Vault of Satoshi will be subject to a monthly penalty of $250 or 25 per cent of the total balance, whichever is higher.

Vault of Satoshi’s servers will be shut off July 31 and “the company will absorb any balances left behind as of this date to cover any outstanding debt incurred from holding the funds.”

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  • Dack Hoober

    That’s OK, Netflix. But if I can’t get Netflix USA, I’m quiting Netflix. 🙂

    • James Vang

      No need to quit, You can watch American Netflix right from your home in Canada with the help of VPN. Yes, I know there are various VPN providers who are blocked by Netflix but still there are some which are working quite well. If you don’t believe then check it by yourself http://www.vpnranks.com/5-best-canada-vpn/

      • Dennis Galon

        One of the VPNs listed at the link you cite is ExpressVPN.

        I was contentedly using ExpressVPN for Netflix, and was perfectly content with the results. Recently, however, Netflix detected my use of a VPN and refuses service until I turn it off.

        Is this happening to everyone using ExpressVPN or only me?
        Is this also happen to other using other VPNs?

        Enlightenment please!

  • Sean Koury

    Me too. Content protection, what a crock. What are they ‘protecting’ us from?

    • tenofzero

      It’s not to protect us, it’s to protect the content.

      • Pierre Evans

        Not just that, the CRTC his not getting revenue from those business.

  • stupid

    Don’t quit netflix there are so many other ways to access American netflix instead of using that stupid free vpn service just google it there’s tons if FREE ones fuck paying a monthly fee when yiu can get it free what’s a crock is having to pay for it

    • Night Fury

      Yeah i was going to say that.. i would recommend expressvpn which is working perfectly with me here you can see the speed test results http://www.fastestvpn.net/ trust me i have tried many VPN service specifically for Netflix or downloading. Because almost everyone claiming best speed so i have this list. i have tested my own as well.. pretty much same as showed there.. check it out

      • Dennis Galon

        I was contentedly using ExpressVPN for Netflix, and was perfectly content with the results. Recently, however, Netflix detects my use of ExpressVPN and refuses service until I turn it off.

        Is this happening to everyone using ExpressVPN or only me?
        Is this also happen to other using other VPNs?

        Enlightenment please!

        • Janet Tarboy

          Iam in Canada I had us unblock, I couldn’t watch Netflix, until I turned off
          Us unblock, iam freaking pissed over that

          • Dennis Galon

            Janet, I am also in Canada. Subsequent my message above, I contacted ExpressVPN, twice, and they were extremely helpful. The first time, I was invited to try connecting via certain specific US cities, and that worked. The second time, when connecting to those cities became difficult, I was advised to change the protocol used, and that also worked.

            So if you have ExpressVPN, I suggest you contact there support service for advice.

    • Sally Croft

      Don’t leave Netflix. You can still watch it from Canada or anywhere you want with VPN Service like PureVPN. Get it today http://www.purevpn.com/canada-vpn-service.php

  • Samantha Spiteri

    i did what it said to do now i cant asses my netflixs at all cant unblock it from my ps3

    • Ryan Crites

      To access sum stuff on my Xbox I had to switch the country back to Canada from the U.S. It’s possible that u might have to do sum thing like that

    • Jim Gordon

      Netflix may have caught you and banned your account. Terboflix violates the Terms of Service on Netflix. That’s why I will never use it. For $7.99 per month Netflix has plenty of great content.

  • Ryan Crites

    I did it on my Xbox1 and it works great except when I wanna buy dlc for games I have to change the country in my setting back from the U.S. To Canada but that’s a quick change turboflix rocks I get so much more movies and tv shows that it takes me about 20 minutes to pick a show

  • Randy Levine

    Selfish new business ventures like TURBOFLIX are going to ruin it for everyone by bringing too much attention (Lawsuits) to light around this geolocation issue…Netflix probably doesn’t even want to get involved but it will be forced to by the content providers…. I say stop being such an entrepreneur! Your selfish desire to turn a profit TURBOFLIX will serve only shut down well deserved entertainment to the hard-overworking public, and probably lead to your own demise as well!

  • anonymous

    I love American netflix it has all my fav shows I watch. If I can’t get American netflix I wont be using netflix any more and I know many other people who will stop using netflix as well. Canadian netfix is terrible. I want to be able to watch criminal minds and the league and other shows that Canadian netflix doesn’t have to offer me.

  • Ontarienne

    Done with Netflix Canada shitty shows thanks turboflix for taking payment for something that wont work all fucken month

  • Oma Parker

    hello i need some help here i cant watch australian netflix because of turboflix i was told to change my gns setting codes back to the australian codes which i did but i lost my internet connections they said use the wizard but no help anyone know what im doing wrong am i suppose to restart my router and my pc for these affects to take place i wish i never put stupid turboflix on at all grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  • Pist

    This crooked fuk took me for 100 bucks