Skype name is too similar to Sky to tell the difference, European court says
The names of Skype and Sky are too similar for the public to tell the difference between them, a European court has ruled.
The ruling means that Microsoft won’t be able to get a trademark on its chat app, Skype. But it won’t see any money change hands, because there is no infringement — European judges are just worried that citizens wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two.
"Conceptually, the figurative element [of the names] conveys no concept, except perhaps that of a cloud,” European judges said, according to the BBC.
"[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'."
Sky has already had a run-in with Microsoft, over the name of the latter’s cloud storage service. That was previously known as SkyDrive, but in response to a court case from the broadcaster Microsoft changed its name to OneDrive.
The Skype case had been an attempt to challenge a ruling by the EU in 2005, which said that Skype’s branding was too similar to Sky for it to be given a trademark in the continent. Microsoft lost the re-launched case, but says that it is planning to appeal.
"The case was not a legal challenge to Skype's use of the mark, it was only against the registration," a Microsoft spokesperson told the BBC. "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."
Though Sky could now theoretically pursue Microsoft for money for using the name, its reaction to the case did not seem to indicate that it would. It simply said that it had noted the decision and that it was part of a “long-running dispute with Skype”.
Sky previously took US company Livescribe to court over a smartpen that was known as “Sky Wifi”. The broadcaster succeeded in having the pen’s name changed in the UK, where it is now known “Livescribe Wifi”.
Independent News Service