Microsoft facing European Skype trademark battle

It's a name that is, for many people, synonymous with voice and video chats: Skype. But in Europe, Microsoft has just been told that the name of its communication tool cannot be trademarked because it is too similar to that of broadcaster Sky.

Microsoft has previously been forced to rename its cloud storage service SkyDrive to OneDrive, but at the moment there is no suggestion that Skype will have to be renamed. The company has indicated that it intends to appeal against the ruling.

Speaking about the Skype name and logo, the General Court of the European Union said that "conceptually, the figurative element conveys no concept, except perhaps that of a cloud. [It] 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".

The case dates back ten years when it was first ruled that Skype was too similar to Sky to be granted a trademark in the European Union. Despite the lack of trademark, other companies would not necessarily be able to create products and services of their own called Skype without fear of repercussions.

Microsoft remains defiant, saying: "The case was not a legal challenge to Skype's use of the mark, it was only against the registration. 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."