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The great Sky/Skype debacle

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An EU court recently ruled that the Skype and Sky TV logos were so similar that there is a strong likelihood they could be confused with one another, which effectively means that Skype is now unable to register its current logo as a trademark. The decision was made by the General Court of the European Union, and finally brings an end to Skype's decade long campaign to trademark its own identity. Skype owners Microsoft, are however, reportedly planning to appeal this decision and has the option of bringing an appeal to the European Court of Justice. The case was brought forward by Microsoft after they challenged 2012 and 2013 decisions by the EU’s trademark authority, following a 2005 complaint from Sky UK, formerly known as British Sky Broadcasting.

An EU court recently ruled that the Skype and Sky TV logos were too similar

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Sky has always claimed that there is a “Likelihood of confusion” between the two logos, and the court has now officially upheld Sky's position. In the ruling, the court noted not only similarities in the logos, but in the way they were pronounced, and found that Microsoft had done little to distinguish the two words. A statement made by the court claimed: “The fact that, in the figurative sign applied for, the word element ‘Skype’ is surrounded by a jagged border in the shape of a cloud or a bubble does not affect the average degree of visual, phonetic and conceptual similarity. Visually, the figurative element does no more than highlight the word element and is, therefore, perceived as a mere border.” Of course, this all sounds like legal hyperbole (and it is), but it is also pretty accurate. In fact, we're amazed this decision wasn't reached sooner!

The EU court noted not only similarities in the logos, but in the way they were pronounced

A spokesperson for Sky said: “Sky notes today’s decision from the General Court of the European Union. This relates to a long-running dispute with Skype over the extension of its trademark applications to cover a broad range of goods and services that overlap with Sky’s own trademark registrations (including, but not limited to, TV related products and services). 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.”

The UK High Court ruled in 2014 that Microsoft’s SkyDrive infringed Sky’s trademark

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The two companies have fought over trademark issues before of course, with the UK’s High Court ruling in 2014 that Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service infringed Sky’s trademark, forcing Microsoft to change the name to OneDrive. The latest ruling does not mean that Skype must change its name, but it does means that it's prevented from registering it as a trademark. A Microsoft spokesperson defiantly said: “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.” Whatever Skype decide to do, it will certainly be interesting to see how this saga plays out and how it affects the popularity of the telecommunications software.

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