A European Court has blocked Microsoft’s attempts to register the name of its popular Skype chat service as a trademark, ruling the brand could create confusion with trademarks already owned by Sky.
The broadband, home phone and TV giant has registered its trademark in 2003, two years before Skype applied to protect its brand.
It has long argued that allowing Microsoft to register the Skype brand for communications services could lead some users into believing the two services were linked, thereby causing confusion.
In 2013 the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market backed Sky’s position and banned Microsoft from registering the Skype trademark.
The General Court for the EU has now dismissed Microsoft’s appeal against that decision, ruling that “visual, phonetic and conceptual” similarities between the two logos meant there was “a likelihood of confusion” between them.
Today’s ruling contained further bad news for Microsoft as the court declared that “even if the term ‘skype’ had acquired a meaning of its own for identifying the telecommunications services provided by the company Skype, it would be a generic, and consequently descriptive, term for services of that kind.”
A generic word or term is ineligible for trademark protection.
Microsoft, which can still use the Skype brand, is now likely to appeal to European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court.