Microsoft barred from registering Skype as trademark – too similar to Sky

Skype is not eligible for registration as a trademark, because it may be confused with the registered trademark for Sky that predated it. That is the decision reached a short while ago by the judges at the General Court of the European Union.

When Microsoft-owned Skype, a provider of web-based telephony services, applied for EU trademark protection 10 years ago, it was initially able to register three variants of the trademark. However, British television broadcaster Sky challenged the registrations, claiming that they were too similar to the Sky trademark that it had already successfully registered.

In 2010 a Board of Appeal at OHIM, the European Union agency responsible for trademark issues, ruled in favour of Sky and revoked all three Skype registrations. When OHIM’s Grand Board of Appeal upheld the decision, Skype took its case to the General Court of the EU.

The General Court has now confirmed the visual and phonetic similarities between the two companies’ trademarks and notes that both companies are registered for the same kind of products and services. The court has also taken account of the fact that the Sky brand is already well established as one of the UK’s best known trademarks.

Microsoft does, however, still have the option of appealing against the General Court’s decision by taking its case to the European Court of Justice.