back to article Round Two in Sky vs Skype trademark scrap goes to Murdoch's men

British broadcaster Sky UK has won round two in its trademark infringement battle with Skype. The European Union General Court found on Tuesday that the two names are too similar and could cause confusion. In 2012 and 2013 the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) upheld Sky’s complaint, but Skype then …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone won against Microsoft

    Has Hell frozen over yet?

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Someone won against Microsoft

      I would rather MS won against Murdoch

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: Someone won against Microsoft

        I'd rather they both stop farting around and throwing money at their legal teams. They should spend the money on something that will actually benefit customers such as improving their service. You can buy a lot of programmer hours for the price of a single lawyer hour.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Someone won against Microsoft

          Yes, but if someone comes along and tells you that you have to change the name of one of your most recognized brands just because, you're kind of put in the position of having to defend that. People don't invest in brand names just because they like to waste money - it can result in very material gain or loss. Let's face it, Kraft could produce generic knock-offs of most of Cadbury's line-up, but they were still willing to throw lots of money their way because that name guarantees them sales.

          Anyway, this case isn't really about MS vs. Murdoch. It's really a judgement on how stupid we think people are. Confusing Skype and Sky because the first three letters are the same? I'm never letting anyone cook me Shitake Mushrooms if the verdict comes back that the humanity really has become that stupid.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Someone won against Microsoft

            Whenever I'm going to make a peer-to-peer video or voice call to a friend or relative I always switch on my TV and flick through 900 channels of overpriced utter shite in order to do so, don't you?

  2. Hollerith 1

    Ask the person on the Clapham omnibus?

    Have they done any testing among the population to see if the contention 'this would confuse the plebs' is actually, y'know, confusing the plebs? Or are we such morons that the word 'Sky' or the picture of a cloud will have us hopelessly torn among choices and we would know not whither to turn?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Ask the person on the Clapham omnibus?

      For their next trick, they're probably going to be targetting purveyors of large open metal building waste disposal units and those who sell playground rope-based toys enjoyed mainly by young girls, not to mention anyone caught selling shell-shaped prawn cocktail flavoured snacks.

      1. Tom Sparrow

        Re: Ask the person on the Clapham omnibus?

        Re Anon Coward: I don't think you're pronouncing Skype the way the rest of us are, or is that me (& everyone I know)?

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: Ask the person on the Clapham omnibus?

          Since when does that matter to a lawyer on the make?

          And who're you calling a coward?

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: Ask the person on the Clapham omnibus?

            I think that reply by Tom Sparrow to Anonymous Custard just added fuel to the Murdoch argument.

            Clearly Anonymous Custard is too similar to the generic Anonymous Coward logo, and even the silver badge is not enough to differentiate his brand.

            1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

              Re: Ask the person on the Clapham omnibus?

              I shall await the legal papers, and defend my dessert-based monicker until at least lunchtime, or I get bored or something good comes on the TV ;)

              But in the meantime, have an upvote too...

        2. no-one in particular

          Re: Ask the person on the Clapham omnibus?

          > I don't think you're pronouncing Skype the way the rest of us are

          But I always assumed it was an homage to the bush kangaroo.

  3. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Joke

    Rename?

    Well they could always rename it Onepe to match OneDrive, or perhaps even something different like, oh I dunno, Lync? ;)

    And the end line that "...calls to Skype ... were not returned" raised a much needed chuckle here at the end of a post-bank holiday catchup day.

    1. SEDT

      Re: Rename?

      Ooo That explains why the renamed Skydrive. I thought it was corporate arseing about but upon reflection perhaps they had a reason. Dur

  4. ratfox Silver badge
    WTF?

    So what now?

    Skype must rename themselves, despite being more famous by far than the other party?

    1. Cliff

      Re: So what now?

      More famous in more countries. Since 2003. Aren't Murdoch's lot leaving it a little late to squeal 'foul'?

    2. xerocred

      Re: So what now?

      The Isle of Skye also received cease and desist letters...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: So what now?

        KNEEL before the CANCER that is MURDOCH!

        MWAHAHA!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Joke

          Re: So what now?

          hay, stop insulting cancer!

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. dieselbug

      Re: So what now?

      Sky existed before Skype. It doesn't matter how "famous" a brand is. Unless you'er fighting Apple and they decide to pay you for the name (Facetime was a chat gateway proxy for Lotus Sametime some years ago before Apple decided to call their video chat app the same)

  5. AIBailey Silver badge

    Calls to Skype and parent company Microsoft for comment were not returned at time of publication

    I've had that problem with Skype as well, best thing is to turn it off and on again.

    More seriously though, it's starting to feel as though BSkyB are the new Easy-group, claiming infringements on anything with "Sky" in the title. I can just about understand the Sky Drive case (though even that seemed a little far fetched - is Sky particularly well known anywhere outside of the UK?), but this one seems a little more desperate. TBH until I'd read this article I'd never considered that there could be any kind of (alleged) confusion between the brands.

    1. Test Man

      Well there's been a few Sky businesses operating in Europe for years now (Sky Italia, Sky Deutschland, etc.). And they've been featured in movies (Sky News in Independence Day, for example). So I don't think it's a case of "no one knows who Sky is outside of the UK".

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Sky is virtually unknown

        Even if you would like to think otherwise.. only british and a few europeans know BSkyB, etc.

        Almost everyone knows skype.

  6. Slacker@work

    So just like SkyDrive....

    Time for a spot of cyber squatting...

    OneVoice - taken

    OneCall - taken

    OneShout - taken

    *keeps on looking*

    1. DreadPirateRobot

      Re: So just like SkyDrive....

      Someone check:

      AzureVoice

      VoiceOverAzure

      LyncForHome

      AzureChat

      BingVoice

      BingSpeek

      AzureOneBing 2015 R2 Home Plus Premium

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: So just like SkyDrive....

        One kerr?

        1. king of foo

          Re: So just like SkyDrive....

          Currently available

          onefriedchicken.vision

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Yes I'm confused

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cf/Sky_logo.svg/2000px-Sky_logo.svg.png

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype#/media/File:Skype_logo.svg

    The likeness is uncanny.

  8. Keef

    Sky not BSkyB

    "British broadcaster BSkyB"

    It's not BSkyB any longer, Sky PLC is the parent company and Sky UK Ltd is the UK subsidiary.

    Do keep up El Reg... .

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. phil dude
    Coat

    as big companies go....

    Can't M$ just buy BSKYB?

    P.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    It appears (thanks to Apple)

    The key test is the a moron in a hurry

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: It appears (thanks to Apple)

      He's probably running to catch the Clapham Omnibus...

  11. Dominion

    So glad to see that my taxes are being used for such useful stuff in Europe. How anyone can possibly confuse a satellite TV company with a software product is beyond me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      as has been said, the test is moron in a hurry.

      You know, the guy who can't tell the difference between the comms company (skype) and the comms interception company (the one that's linked to news international)

      1. h4rm0ny

        The world should not be optimized for idiots but for intelligent people.

        Even if the former would be more democratic.

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Devil

        You mean

        You know, the guy who can't tell the difference between the comms interception company (skype) and the comms interception company (the one that's linked to news international)

        FTFY

  12. Kenny Millar

    What about Skype+ ?

    I've got Skype at home. Do you think it's worth the extra money to upgrade to Skype+? I hear it does recording too. <VBG>

  13. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I can't believe (well I can), but all the same...

    That grown-up "professional" people get out of bed in the morning and go to work to argue about this crap.

    Whilst I may occasionally grumble about my job, it does make me thankful that at least I spend my work day doing something constructive.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: I can't believe (well I can), but all the same...

      True, but given the fees and salaries that are also involved, you do have to wonder in the end who comes out the winner in the end (unfortunately it isn't people like us).

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I can't believe (well I can), but all the same...

        "you do have to wonder in the end who comes out the winner in the end"

        The lawyers.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: I can't believe (well I can), but all the same...

          The lawyers.

          Come the revolution, even the Great Wall of China may not be big enough

  14. dms05

    What's the problem with M$? They already know Murdoch owns the Sun and the Sky so why should he share anything?

  15. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Skype attempted to argue the “pronunciation of ‘y’ is no shorter in ‘skype’ than it is in ‘sky’.”

    Well, it isn't. If it were we would all be saying "skip" as the 'e' is silent and we're not. If the court found against that then they must have been phonetically comparing the two words in another language.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Skype attempted to argue the “pronunciation of ‘y’ is no shorter in ‘skype’...

      Exactly.

      But what confused me is why would Skype be trying to argue the similarity and not Sky?

  16. batfastad

    Confusing?

    I don't know about anyone else but I signed up to Sky because of their marketing. It's everywhere, every time I look up, above me all the time. Fscking Murdoch can take his fscking sky and shove it.

    Wait, what, you mean... the atmosphere is not owned by Sky Plc despite having the word "sky" in it? Oh I see, solicitors found prior art in this case.

  17. Chris 244

    Skipe

    Easy, just change the name to Skipe. Conveniently someone in Redmond already owns Skipe.com

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Cari

    re. Someone won against Microsoft

    If it weren't the EU courts, maybe. Satan is only slushing his way to work as we speak though.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: re. Someone won against Microsoft

      Satan works for Murdoch, but he had to sign the contract in blood before Murdoch would give him the job!

  20. Cari

    Re. Rename?

    Or just go back to MSN.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Eh what?

    So a significant contributing factor in the decision was their “degree of visual, phonetic and conceptual similarity”?

    Really? So Sky get to corner the market in use of what is a very very old common noun?

    I don't think anyone with enough intelligence to understand what Skype and Sky are could possibly be confused by this similarity in sound.

    I'm left feeling that the court is coming up with arguments to justify a decision that they were bound, for some reason, to make - rather than sensibly considering the facts.

    Is it gross failure of intelligence? Inherent antipathy to anything Microsoft have a hand in? Or is it just because Murdoch is rich/influential?

    Who knows.

  22. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    I do not understand this ruling. AFAIAA there would only be an infringement if the two companies are competing in the same market. AFAIAA Sky does not offer VOIP and Skype does not provide video programs, so I cannot see where there would be any significant market overlap. So maybe one or both companies are planning to expand into the other's market areas?

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Sky does offer a phone service. I have it on my PSTN line.

      1. xerocred

        Who did voip first?

    2. lorisarvendu

      Think Packard Bell

      It's more likely to be about brand association than simply being unable to tell the two products apart.

      Even though no sane human being would ever think Skype could deliver TV shows or that they could phone their mum in Australia on their Sky box, they might have a vague idea that Sky and Skype are somehow part of the same company.

      When choosing a product, people do tend to be influenced by the fact that they've somehow heard the name before. For years Packard Bell have successfully traded off the fact that US customers know and respect the brands Hewlett Packard and The Bell Telephone Company. I worked for a retail chain in the UK who sold PB, and you wouldn't believe the number of times prospective customers said "Oh, Hewlett Packard, they're supposed to be good aren't they?"

  23. Vince

    I don't really understand why Sky are bothering, MS will change the name of Skype sooner or later anyhow, they change the bloody name of every other product repeatedly until nobody knows, including them, what to call it.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Unfortunately it's going the other way - Lync is (or was) going to become Skype for Business...

      1. Vince

        Yeah... for now. Won't be long.

  24. MrHorizontal

    Hang on...

    ...aren't there a bunch of Sky TV channels in Europe that have nothing to do with BSkyB or Murdoch?

    Surely that's a bit more of a trademark infringement being in the *direct industry* BSkyB operates in rather than a name that spuriously alludes to 'Sky' and operating in a *totally different industry* as Skype does.

    My suggestion to MS is to raise the fact that:

    a) Sky is used by other TV stations in Europe

    b) Skype has nothing to do with TV.

    1. dieselbug

      Re: Hang on...

      Uh, no. Sky channels are sold/broadcast/rebroadcast across Europe in many markets. It's not an exclusively British entity

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Hang on...

      They were owned directly by Murdoch, but he sold them to Sky last year. He owns about 40% of Sky.

  25. Peter Johnstone

    Windows messenger.

    MS should have stuck with windows messenger.

  26. Jolyon Ralph

    Firefox next?

    hmmm...

  27. Red Bren
    Trollface

    Hoist by their own petard?

    I'm sure I remember reading a similar article back in 2004.

    Wouldn't it be ironic if that case was quoted as precedent.

    Isn't it about time we stopped companies from trademarking common nouns?

    1. lorisarvendu

      Re: Hoist by their own petard?

      Strange victory in that case. MS lost, being forced to pay Lindows $20M in return for the "Lindows" name, However Lindows changed it's name to Linspire, got acquired by Xandros, and vanished soon after.

      Not sure who won in the end there, unless it was the lawyers.

  28. Rusty 1
    Unhappy

    Skynet

    Rupekins, since Skynet became active in August 1997, they are most interested in this action.

    1. Skynet is not pronounced Skinet. It is, has always been, and always will be Skynet, with a nice long I vowel sound.

    2. There is no similarity between the provision of service between Skynet and Sky. Oh cock. Yes there is. It is a one way stream leading to the death of the human race.

    Bugger. Sorry. Move along.

  29. peter_dtm

    What ?

    Like probably the vast majority of human beings (of which; obvioulsy; lawyers & EU court judges are not part of) I had never heard of some (then) mickey mouse UK media comapny when I and thousands of others in Africa started using Skype.

    I do assume; that the EU does know the rest of the world exisits ?

    and is populated by humans - not scum bag lawyers and EU drecks ?

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: What ?

      Last time I checked, lawyers don't start lawsuits. People hire them to fight a fight they are determined to have. If the parties keep throwing money at them, lawyers will keep doing their best to represent them.

      It's too lazy to blame lawyers as if they were evil bastards. It's like blaming auditors.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Odd, I was sure Murdoch is strongly against the EU.

    There again he has two versions of the Sun newspaper in the UK backing diametrically opposed political parties in the upcoming election, so I guess its the numbers that count.

  31. Jim Howes
    Mushroom

    A few more entries for Sky's litigator's hit-list..

    A search on companies house returns 5,215 current or recently dissolved limited companies which start with 'Sky' from Sky PLC, Sky & Co Ltd., through to Skyzurich UK Ltd. including such curious companies as Skyline (Dungeons & Dragons) limited, any number of Skynet this or that, and worryingly Sky Nuclear Services Ltd (Presumably for the stage after litigation finishes)..

  32. ijbp2468

    I'm next

    My dog's called Sky, am I next on BSkyB's hit list?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Euro too similar to Europe

    The continent came first so let's rename the currency.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's Johnny Marbles when you need him?

  35. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Damn Lawyers.

    I'm off to watch an episode of Suits via Netflix on my Apple TV.

    See what I did there?

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Damn Lawyers.

      They've only got series 1 to 3 on Netflix in the UK. Damn them.

  36. hi_robb

    Sky

    A bunch of moronnic fuckwits. I hope one of the Astra birds comes crashing down on Rupert Murdoch Smithers and helps us forget he existed.

    And no I don't work for Skype, I just aint a fan of Murdoch the megalomaniac fuckwit.

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