EU court rules that 'Skype' name is too similar to 'Sky'

Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 Credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The popular video chat service Skype has suffered a significant setback in court today, after judges ruled that it is likely that the public could be confused between it and the broadcaster Sky.

The decision means that Microsoft, which owns Skype, is unable to register Skype and its bubble logo as a trade mark.

The General court of the European Union asserts that "the word ‘sky’, part of the basic vocabulary of the English language, remains clearly identifiable in the word ‘skype’."

Microsoft, which argued that the word "skype" was so distinctive that it had entered the language as a general term for online video calls, intends to appeal the decision.

A spokesperson said: “We’re confident no confusion exists between these brands and services and will appeal. This decision does not require us to alter product names in any way.”

This is the latest stage in legal wrangles which have rumbled on between the two brands over their names since 2005.

If Microsoft's final avenue of appeal, to the European Court of Justice, fails, it will be up to the EU's Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market to decide which action to take.