back to article Judge nixes Microsoft SkyDrive name in BSkyB court ruling

BSkyB has won a legal case against Microsoft in the UK and EU over its use of the name "SkyDrive" for its cloud storage service. British judge Sarah Asplin, sitting in the chancery division of Blighty's High Court, ruled that the evidence in the case "revealed confusion amongst real people" about the SkyDrive service, …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love watching MS lose in Court

    Just wish it wasn't Murdoch that gave them a bloody nose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I love watching MS lose in Court

      after years of Microsoft dissing people's use of the English word "Windows" then they use another English word and lose. chortle

      1. Mark .

        Re: I love watching MS lose in Court

        People bring up the "Windows" example in every MS trademark case, but here's the thing: MS lost the Lindows case (at least, they lost the initial injunction, and decided to settle, out of fear of losing that trademark).

        But moreover, two wrongs don't make a right. Even if we didn't care about MS, the ruling here is that Sky now own the rights to the common word "Sky", even when (a) it's a market other than what Sky do, and (b) it's a common usage of the word ("sky" obviously having a connection with "cloud"). That affects everyone. Lawyers win, consumers lose.

        Also note there's nothing wrong with trademarking common names. Microsoft didn't go after people using the name "Windows" for say glass-window-repair or window-cleaning businesses - the problem was that "window" was also a pre-existing term in computing. No one would care if Sky went after people using the name for another TV or ISP company.

        1. HollyHopDrive

          Re: I love watching MS lose in Court

          @mark Its not the fact that sky amazingly won (too generic imho but that's irrelevant) but its the irony over the previous "windows" case that amuses us.

          The old phrase "What goes around...." Springs instantly to mind

        2. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: I love watching MS lose in Court

          Sky is an ISP right? An internet thing. Skydrive is also an internet thing. You think Joe average is going to think they are not related?

          If they were going after sky toilet paper (soft as clouds) I could see a problem, it's clear there is no relation.

          You think MS would be OK with me starting up a new cloud backup service in the US called SkyBackup? Sky is just descriptive right?

          1. Great Bu

            Re: I love watching MS lose in Court

            Exactly, you get Sky Broadband, Sky E-Mail etc. so why would you not assume that Sky Drive is Sky's Sat Nav App ?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I love watching MS lose in Court

              @Great Bu: "you get Sky Broadband, Sky E-Mail etc"

              There's no reference to Sky E-Mail on the Sky website. The only Internet related products that Sky offer are Sky Broadband and Sky WiFi, which is a free service only available to Sky Broadband customers. Sky doesn't brand any other Internet related services.

              1. Great Bu

                Re: I love watching MS lose in Court

                @AC 15:54

                Sky e-mail was recently re-branded as Sky Yahoo Mail when they moved over from google providing the back end to yahoo (presumably out of pity for yahoo or something). Up until April of this year it was marketed as Sky Mail and it was (and still is) available to anyone who wants it (even if you are not a sky customer, although I can't think why you might want it if you're not).

                Sky also market their roamong WiFi via a company called 'The Cloud' with a cloud symbol almost identical to the MS skydrive icon and Sky Go is their TV streaming service.

                There's loads of room for confusion in clearly related areas, certainly people who don't work in IT conflate all 'computery' stuff like this into one mental space.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: chortle

        No chortling from me. In a perfect world MS should have lost their case on Windows and Sky should have lost their case for their trademark.

        Given the way trademarks generally work under the current legal framework, the beak should be overturned surveys not withstanding. MS's cloud product isn't in the Broadcasting market so unless Sky is in the cloud storage market, the MS trademark does not infringe on their market.

        1. Pookietoo
          WTF?

          Re: MS's cloud product isn't in the Broadcasting market

          So you've not heard of Sky Broadband, or don't think that an Internet storage provider's product might reasonably be confused with an established Internet service provider of the same name?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    An idea for the new name

    RupertIsAnArseDrive.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: An idea for the new name

      Works for me.

      Sounds better than TSFKAS anyway (the storage formerly known as Skydrive) anyway.

  3. DJ 2
    Stop

    Infringing how?

    One is for an offline storage device, the other is a satellite tv provider. They are hardly in the same market so no infringement.

    This needs throwing out.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Infringing how?

      Since Sky broadcasts from satellites up in the sky, and The Sky at Night has featured people looking up into the sky, often at satellites (natural or man-made), for over 50 years now, by the same reasoning, shouldn't the BBC sue Murdoch - because obviously people are going to confuse the TV station with the BBCs astronomy programme?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Infringing how?

      One is a CLOUD (aka online) storage service.

      The other is a satellite television, phone line, and ISP providor (note that ISP = internet = online)

    3. David Paul Morgan
      Megaphone

      Re: Infringing how?

      I'm so loath to side with News International & Murdoch, but as they seem to be an internet service provider, then a Sky Drive could reasonably be supplied by BSkyB

      I think that Apple will definitely have to steer well clear of calling their product iTV over here.

      Actually, now Sky seem to have the use of Skydrive, that could be their generic name for their own programmes on demand service (like Netflix or Lovefilm)

      1. Mark .

        Re: Infringing how?

        "Actually, now Sky seem to have the use of Skydrive, that could be their generic name for their own programmes on demand service (like Netflix or Lovefilm)"

        I'd love them to launch their own Skydrive after this case, and for it to result in an *increase* of people phoning them to ask about support for MS Skydrive...

      2. Tom 13

        Re: loath to side with

        This isn't about siding with the lesser of two evils. If the ruling stands it sets a precedent that if you are a sufficiently well known brand, you can stomp on other people in completely different market segments. That's bad for all of us.

    4. Jonathan 29

      Re: Infringing how?

      If you counted the number of times they said TV or Television at the Xbox launch you might presuppose Microsoft had big ambitions in this area. Online delivery to a worldwide audience is the next big game in town. Consequently Sky will be delivering more and more content from the cloud including all your future saved planner content for delivery to all mobile devices and consoles. The Sky box will barely need to exist in a few years and could be replaced by a Sky Cloud service. I can see the problem.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: the next big game in town.

        Trademarks aren't issued for possible future products. They are issued for things you are doing RFN. If you snooze, you lose.

    5. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Infringing how?

      Sky are the third largest ISP in the UK. The largest, BT, offers a cloud storage service similar to Skydrive.

  4. Efros
    Pint

    Probably says more about the average user's powers of deduction than anything else.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      I'm not sure why. There is a very well known company called Sky, and it has TV, phone and internet services. Then there is a new internet service call SkyDrive; and people associate it with the internet provider Sky?

      Now if it was called MicrosoftDrive and people thought it had something to do with Sky, I could understand you, but given only that it's called SkyDrive, I fail to see why you would assume it was from Microsoft.

      1. Darren Barratt
        Happy

        lawyergasms

        The could try Microdrive and get sued by the ghost of Sinclair

      2. Efros

        It is very clearly a microsoft product, Microsoft blue, annoying tiling, It even tells you in the address bar.

        http://gyazo.com/a1bcc4e4b8fe29690c30b4fd23fc8122.png

      3. YetAnotherComentard
        Joke

        How about SunDrive? Clouds block the Sun sometimes?

  5. Phil W

    Poor choice of name

    As per title, it is a poor choice of name.

    I have to say as an IT literate (not to mention an IT worker and sysadmin) I too would point the finger at BSkyB if someone asked who provided the service called "SkyDrive" or "SkyDrive cloud storage".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor choice of name

      If someone asked you who provided the iPlayer service would you say Apple?

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Poor choice of name

        "If someone asked you who provided the iPlayer service would you say Apple?"

        Funny you should mention that one. Given their track record, plus the example outside the IT world of Easy<whatever>, I am astonished that Apple didn't sue.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Poor choice of name

          "If someone asked you who provided the iPlayer service would you say Apple?"

          " I am astonished that Apple didn't sue."

          They did. They settled out of court and the primary restitution to Apple was a guarantee that the BBC would mention "Apple", "iPad", "iPod", "iPhone" and use the term "PodCast" at least once per 5 minute interval somewhere across their entire estate of broadcast mediums.

    2. Mark .

      Re: Poor choice of name

      What I see: "As an IT literate, I too would be completely ignorant to the name of the cloud hosting service for the major OS used by 90% of users. Rather than using my IT literate skills in a 10 second Google search to educate myself, I'll just jump to a conclusion, and assume that there can't possible be more than one use for a commonly used word in the English language. I'd also tell people to buy Apple ipods at Apple Records, and I think that Windows and X Windows are made by the same company."

      I don't mean to be harsh, but this really is user stupidity that's been reported, and an IT literate should know better - either straight off, or know how to look it up. And ignorance shouldn't allow companies to own the English language.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: And ignorance shouldn't allow companies to own the English language.

        I think we'd all be better off if there were no qualifiers about companies being allowed to own any parts of the English language. Alas, that feather pillow seems to have been burst at the top of a hill on a windy day.

    3. Irongut

      Re: Poor choice of name

      Makes note to throw any CVs from people called Phil W in the bin.

      IT literate my arse.

      1. Phil W

        Re: Poor choice of name

        Certainly as an IT literate I would look it up. That was not really my point.

        My point was that the name alone does not indicate ties to Microsoft in anyway and since Sky is an ISP I would associate it with them if asked on the spot (without opportunity to google it).

        Infringement is to do with the immediate association not whether you can look it up with google to figure it out.

        If,without prior knowledge of the product or any way to lookup it up, you would associate the brand SkyDrive with Microsoft please explain to me why?

        1. Phil W

          Re: Poor choice of name

          Also...

          Google Drive is Google's cloud storage, again without looking it up it would be logical to think SkyDrive was Sky's

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor choice of name

      Then you sir, are an idiot. Remind me to never hire you

  6. Shagbag
    FAIL

    "this case... has nothing to do with... future innovation"

    "This case is only about the SkyDrive name and has nothing to do with service availability or future innovation,"

    This was clearly a communication from MSFT USA as anyone else with even a cursory understanding of the English language would spot the non-sequitur immediately.

    'hats' off to the idiot who wrote it.

  7. SuperTim

    I can see the issue.

    Something being in "the cloud" is not in "the sky", and just refers to a "cloud" of connected online servers and storage. MS trying to allude that "clouds" and "sky" are related seems a bit of clutching at straws and that BSkyB having an ISP which may offer storage means that they would have a "skydrive" in the way that google have a "googledrive".

    So I kind of see it. I am not confused but I supposed they have to assume that someone will make the error and assume that MS is now a front for Murdoch and his evil henchmen.

    Google now literally having the internet attached to balloons in the sky may only cause further confusion though!

    1. Darth_RayDar

      Re: I can see the issue.

      My local branch of major retailer M&S is offering free Wi-Fi through The Cloud, a BSkyB company. No doubt that will be related somewhere as BSkyB offering cloud through MS. Grounds for MS to sue?

    2. Tom 13

      @SuperTim

      When looking to trademark a product, if the primary term is already overcrowded you start to look for synonyms or related terms. Clouds are most certainly in the sky so 'sky' as part of the artificial name you create for your product is a logical step, and it is descriptive. The root problem here is that MS shouldn't be able to own 'Windows' as a trademark and the satellite/broadcasting company shouldn't be able to own 'Sky.' 'Skye' maybe, but certainly not 'Sky.'

  8. kbb

    "Redmond tried to argue that the term "sky" was descriptive"

    Like "windows" then?

  9. Anonymous Coward 15

    And next week

    he'll start suing airlines.

  10. ISYS
    Happy

    This does beg the question...

    what was the Beatles song 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' really about?

    1. Proud Father
      Trollface

      Re: This does beg the question...

      Apparently that song was written whilst they were under to influence of hallucinogen drugs.

      1. Anonymous C0ward

        Re: This does beg the question...

        Implying the others weren't?

      2. John 172
        FAIL

        Re: This does beg the question...

        No it wasn't, it was written about a girlfriend of Paul's called Lucy...

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: This does beg the question...

      it was about three and a half minutes.....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    using THIS logic...

    ITV could lose to Apple.

    Just because consumers don't know what it is and who it belongs to - it doesn't mean that Sky should win.

    Are they going to sue Skylon next? Or maybe the Isle of Skye?

    "Hello, is that Sky? Yes, I'd like to make a complaint. I visited your island the other day and I was very disappointed by the lack of high definition sheep."

    I fear for classical-pop music combo.....uhm....Sky.....people could get confused while listening to Toccata...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: using THIS logic...

      But sky is long running in the market of ISPs and people were making an active mistake in contacting sky rather than microsoft with problems.

      When I say sky what's the first technological thing that comes to mind. Sky TV right?

      When you say ITV what's the first thing that comes to mind, ITV (channel 3) ergo there are probably a lot of itiots out there who would buy an iTV (apple) have problems and proceed to complain to iTV (channel) which is what has caused the court case.

      1. MrRtd

        Re: using THIS logic...

        Today the letter i is brought to you by Apple.

    2. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: using THIS logic...

      "Hello, is that Sky? Yes, I'd like to make a complaint. I visited your island the other day and I was very disappointed by the lack of high definition sheep."

      What would be entertaining now is if a Sky customer* actually did that, recorded it and uploaded the results.

      * Where the value of "a Sky customer" is actually "lots of Sky customers".

      1. BrownishMonstr

        Re: using THIS logic...

        I'll do it, but only if many others will.

  12. Graeme Sutherland
    Happy

    New name for SkyDrive

    Microdrive.

    1. Perror

      Re: New name for SkyDrive

      Megadrive?

      1. Captain Queeg

        Re: New name for SkyDrive

        Skive?

    2. Z-Eden
      Go

      Re: New name for SkyDrive

      Thumbs up, if only to see MS being sued by Sinclair (even though they're defunct!)

      1. SuperTim

        Re: New name for SkyDrive

        Microdrive is an Hitachi trademark IIRC.

        1. Pookietoo

          Re: Microdrive is an Hitachi trademark IIRC.

          Inherited from IBM, who made tiny hard drives that masqueraded as compact flash cards - I have a few somewhere.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New name for SkyDrive

        How about CloudDrive, or C:Drive for short

    3. David Paul Morgan
      Devil

      Re: New name for SkyDrive

      LIVEdrive

      and they should call the IMKA Metro the LIVE interface

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: New name for SkyDrive

        "LIVEdrive"

        or Drive:LIVE... which could be shortened to Drive:L

        1. Mr Anonymous

          Re: New name for SkyDrive

          How about NSADrive

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Oninoshiko

        Re: New name for SkyDrive

        Except the thing about trademarks, the main distinguishing feature of trademarks, is they are used for trade. If the mark is not used in trade, it's not a trademark.

        It's been quite some time since I have seen that one used...

    5. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: New name for SkyDrive

      I'd go for Live Drive.

    6. Tezfair
      Facepalm

      Re: New name for SkyDrive

      IdidntaskforthistobeinstalledonmypcDrive

  13. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    How long ago?

    Umm, hasn't Skydrive been around for a few years now? Why has it taken Murdoch's mob so long to get their faces out from other peoples voicemail boxes long enough to notice? It's hardly a small and unadvertised service.

    This is one of those fights that you don't know who to back though, isn't it.

    1. dogged

      Re: How long ago?

      If the survey was in 2010, presumably this has been rumbling for a while.

      Then again, how many of the general public would have known what DropBox was in 2010?

      1. MikeyD85

        Re: How long ago?

        And how many people in 2010 thought DropBox was part of the Royal Mail?

      2. Daniel B.

        Re: How long ago?

        MS killed Spaces back in 2010, but they already used SkyDrive for a while before that. So it has been out there for quite some time...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How long ago?

          According to that wiki thing, Windows Live Folders was renamed Windows Live SkyDrive on August 9, 2007 and made available to testers in the UK. While Sky Broadband was founded in 2006, it doesn't offer any branded online services - no SkyMail, no SkyBox, no SkyPhotoAlbums, so it's hard to see how SkyDrive is causing it any damage or infringing on it's rights in any way.

          And while I don't doubt that they received an occasional support call about SkyDrive, I imagine that they spent far more on lawyers for this case than they did in handling those support calls. The visual branding of the Sky properties is fairly consistent, and SkyDrive doesn't look anything like any of the Sky properties, so the cost of supporting not-clued-in users should just be a cost of doing business.

          1. Tom 13

            Re: occasional support call about SkyDrive,...

            Absolutely. It's like having a phone number that's one digit off from the pizza delivery place - annoying, but not the fault of the pizza delivery place, and not an infringement.

  14. Frankee Llonnygog

    I can see the confusion

    It sounds a bit like 'Skydive' which is the trademarked name for what Sky's broadband does every other day.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: I can see the confusion

      1 thumb down?Sorry Rupert!

  15. AndrueC Silver badge
    Joke

    The decision is one step in the legal process and Microsoft intends to appeal

    It's got a long way to go then. It's almost never appealed to me.

  16. ISYS
    Coat

    This has happened before

    I remember in school that the teacher told us she was going to take The Register.

    Imagine our confusion as we all thought

    'Take it where?'

    and

    'What foresight, this is the eighties and the Internet hasn't been invented yet, let alone the sometimes informative and funny website!'

  17. Gary F
    Unhappy

    This time I feel sorry for Microsoft

    SkyDrive and Sky TV are completely different products in a completely different market. The court's decision is unjust. I hope MS appeal.

    The 2010 survey is poor evidence because it's 3 years old which is a very long time in technology and buzz words. Redo the survey now and the results will be different.

    Possible new names:

    SoftDrive (because it is)

    NotDropBoxDrive (cos it ain't)

    OneDrive (to bait Sky One and BBC One)

    StratoDrive (sounds powerful)

    365Drive (to tie in with their other cloud product)

    DrinknDrive (accessible in your car through any mobile device)

    1. Gordon Lawrie

      Re: This time I feel sorry for Microsoft

      "OneDrive (to bait Sky One and BBC One)" - Canonical has a similar product called Ubuntu One.

      "StratoDrive (sounds powerful)" German hosting firm and Deutsche Telekom subsidiary STRATO AG has a similar product called HiDrive.

    2. tony2heads
      Stop

      Stop this DriveL

  18. James 36
    Coat

    bingdrive

    to tie in with their other offering ,

    mines the one with the label removed

  19. Darren Barratt

    LiveDrive rhymes nicely.

    1. Pookietoo
      FAIL

      re: LiveDrive rhymes nicely.

      I expect that's what the people thought when they launched livedrive.com

  20. Petalium

    OverDrive?

  21. Wang N Staines
    Trollface

    She is a woman judge, forgive her for her confusion.

  22. myxiplx2

    Confusion

    "Confusion among real people", well yes but if that's the only standard that matters we might as well give up now. I've seen real people fail to put floppy disks in drives, jam half a dozen CD- ROMs into a single drive, and even call their monitor a 'computer' and get confused when their work is still there after turning it off...

    Totally ridiculous ruling, for once I'm actually rooting for Microsoft.

  23. Terry 6 Silver badge

    ...That being said

    I have a "Skydrive" among others, and I do have to pause a moment to remember that it's the Microsoft one. The fact is that the name sounds plausibly BskyB ish and nothing connects it with the name Microsoft

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ...That being said

      Except you had to use your Microsoft Account to log in to Skydrive and the URL has Microsoft Corporation as part of the Id.

      Of course its confusing, but only to idiots.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First Metro, now SkyDrive

    Someone at Microsoft is not performing due diligence.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For a technologist i have always been somewhat nephophobic so I had no idea that SkyDrive was an M$ product - I thought it was BskyB...

  26. Philip Lewis

    Countries separated by a common language

    I think part of the problem here is that there are a lot of non-UK/non-EU types here, who have no clue how pervasive the SKY brand name is, particularly in the UK homemarket.

    The first time I saw SkyDrive, I immediately thought of BSkyB, and I was probably on the MS website at the time. The connection between "Cloud" and "Sky" as related services was at least one level too far removed for me.

    Microsoft is a US corporation, and amongst other things, they used to be completely unaware of the METRO chain, a brand almost unavoidable in Europe. I am unsurprised that their execs and droids do not know who SKY TV are.

    However, I would propose that had MS called their free "cloudy" storage product HBODrive, there might have been some legal flak!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So this means Sky now owns anything with the work Sky in it?

    At least that's the end for Blue Sky Thinking. Phew.

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