EU court decrees Skype name too similar to Sky

Sky has won a European Court bid to show that communication service Skype’s mark, in which it attested that Skype’s name was too similar to its own and may therefore instil confusion in consumers.

Microsoft won’t have to change the name of its service as a result of the decision but it will not be able to register Skype as a trademark or its distinctive bubble-font logo and it may also be forced to pay Sky a licensing fee for the use of its brand in Europe.

Speaking to the BBC a Microsoft spokesperson vowed the firm would appeal the decision, adding: “The case was not a legal challenge to Skype's use of the mark, it was only against the registration.

"We're confident that no confusion exists between these brands and services and will appeal. This decision does not require us to alter product names in any way.”

Justifying their ruling judges at the General Court of the European Union explained: “Conceptually, the figurative element conveys no concept, except perhaps that of a cloud.

"[That] would further increase the likelihood of the element 'Sky' being recognised within the word element 'Skype', for clouds are to be found 'in the sky' and thus may readily be associated with the word 'sky'."

It’s not the first time Microsoft has had a legal run-in with Sky, last year it was forced to change the name of its SkyDrive cloud storage service following protestations from the broadcaster.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.