Skype, Sky…what’s the difference?
To European consumers, apparently it’s nil. The General Court of the European Union has ruled that the logo for the Skype video chat service would confuse end users, leading them to believe that Skype, the communications app, is actually Sky, the enormous satellite giant with fingers in markets all over the EU.
The ruling is a result of a trademark dispute lawsuit that Sky has brought. Microsoft, which owns Skype, is thus prevented from registering the logo in Europe.
Concerning the logo, “conceptually, the figurative element conveys no concept, except perhaps that of a cloud … [this] 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,’” the Court explained.
The word “sky” is indeed a rather common one—and as such crops up in brand names of all stripes. In the U.S., attempting to trademark it in all of its usage forms would be like trademarking the word ”sock”—it’s too generic to warrant protection. But Sky is apparently having none of that.
Sky has sued Microsoft before: last year the software giant had to rebrand its SkyDrive storage product as “OneDrive,” after the London High Court found that that “Sky” infringed on THE “Sky.”
Microsoft plans to appeal in the European Court of Justice. “We’re confident that no confusion exists between these brands and service,” it said. “This decision does not require us to alter product names in any way.”
Sky said that even though Skype in no way competes with its pay-TV 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.”
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