‘Names Skype and Sky may confuse the consumers,’ rules the EU court

By | May 12, 2015

British-based Sky Broadcasting has won its second case against Microsoft for its trademark infringement battle with Skype. A European court has now withheld trade marking rights from Microsoft, saying the names Sky and Skype and their logos are similar and would create confusion among the consumers.


In 2012 and 2013, Sky Broadcasting’s complaint was taken up by Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market. OHIM upheld Sky’s complaint but then Skype then appealed to the EU court. Concluding the case, the EU court that the name as well as the logo of the companies to be too similar and so ruled against Microsoft trade marking its popular voice-calling brand in Europe. The judges ruling from general court of the EU in Luxembourg explained, “Conceptually, the figurative element conveys no concept, except perhaps that of a cloud. It would further increase the likelihood of the element ‘Sky’ being recognized within the word element ‘Skype,’ for clouds are to be found ‘in the sky’ and thus may readily be associated with the word ‘sky.’

Further to the case, Microsoft cannot use Skype as trademark but fortunately, it has not been blocked from using the name, unlike the previous case of Microsoft where the company was asked to change the name of its cloud storage service SkyDrive as it has the word ‘sky’. SkyDrive was then renamed to OneDrive. The previous case was also with Sky Broadcasting which filed the case against Microsoft as breach of its Sky UK’s trademark.

Skype argued that the pronunciation of the vowel ‘y’ is no shorter in the word ‘skype’ than it is in the word’sky.’ About the verdict, Microsoft spokesperson stated, “The case was not a legal challenge to Skype’s use of the mark; it was only against the registration. We are confident no confusion exists between these brands and services and will appeal.” The argument of the word ‘skype’ is highly unique and had even put in the lexicon for identifying voice over IP services but court failed to agree and dismissed it.

Spokesperson from Sky Broadcasting stated, “Our intention has been to protect the Sky Brand, with our research showing that similarities in name and logo have the potential to confuse customer.” He denied to speak of the company’s further action. Sky Broadcasting provides various TV services in UK with channels like Sky One, Sky Sports and Sky Movies.

Skype still has one lifeline left. Microsoft can appeal to European Court of Justice but only with points of law and should appeal within the next 60 days. Hope the companies get justice.