Back in 2014, Microsoft was forced to rebrand SkyDrive to OneDrive because of a legal proceeding that ruled that the SkyDrive brand infringed on the Sky brand in the UK. Microsoft is now facing issues with the Skype brand as well.
British broadcasting company Sky was involved the previous SkyDrive ruling in 2014, and now, an EU court has ruled that the Skype brand resembles Sky’s too closely to be granted an EU-wide trademark. The General Court of the European Union has issues with both the ‘Sky’ typeface of the Skype brand, in addition to the ‘cloud’ shape surrounding it.
“Conceptually, the figurative element conveys no concept, except perhaps that of a cloud. [That] 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’.” – GCEU Judge
A Microsoft spokeswoman has confirmed to the BBC that Skype is not facing a rebrand as “the case was not a legal challenge to Skype’s use of the mark, it was only against the registration”. However, today’s ruling could open the door to Sky filing for another case of trademark infringement against Microsoft.
“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.” – Microsoft
This also gives Sky the opportunity to demand a licensing fee for the use of the Skype brand in the EU, however the broadcasting company did not comment on this following the ruling. It instead talks about its long-running dispute with Skype even before it got acquired by Microsoft.
“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.” – Sky
We’re glad that today’s ruling will not result in a rebrand, as it would not be as easy rebranding Skype the way Microsoft rebranded SkyDrive, nor will it be good for the company considering how much more powerful the Skype brand has become, going as far as becoming a verb.