Skype can be confused with Sky TV, EU court rules

An EU court has ruled that Microsoft’s Skype is too similar in name to Sky TV and that it could confuse the public.

The ruling prevents Microsoft from registering a trademark for its voice, video and text chat service Skype as well as its light blue bulb logo in the EU, in the second blow against Microsoft revolving around Sky-like names in two years.

“Conceptually, the figurative element conveys no concept, except perhaps that of a cloud,” said the judges ruling from general court of the European Union in Luxembourg. “[It] 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’.”

Microsoft said it intends to appeal the decision.

The case was brought by Microsoft challenging 2012 and 2013 decisions by the EU’s trademark authority, following a 2005 complaint from Sky UK, formerly known as British Sky Broadcasting.

Microsoft cannot register Skype as a trademark but has not been blocked from using the Skype name, unlike the US tech company’s last tussle with Sky over its cloud storage service formerly known as SkyDrive.

Microsoft was forced to rename the service OneDrive after a High Court ruling in June 2013 that found SkyDrive in breach of Sky UK’s trademark. The two companies settled, leading to switch to the OneDrive brand in 2014.

The ruling opens the door to the possibility of Sky UK pursuing Microsoft for a licensing fee for the word “sky” in Skype.

“Our intention has been to protect the Sky brand, with our research showing that similarities in name and logo have the potential to confuse customers,” said a Sky spokesperson in a statement without addressing the possibility of further action.


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