Home Industry Strategy Skype vs Sky - What's in a name?

Skype's IPO document has revealed an ongoing legal confrontation with BSkyB, owner of the Sky trademark.

It turns out that a trademark dispute between Skype and UK-based pay TV operator BSkyB (part-owned by News Corporation) has been going on for at least five years.

BSkyB uses the Sky brand for its pay TV, broadband and telephony services. The company's position is that Sky and Skype are confusingly similar.

The practice of using invented names such as Skype for companies and brands is largely an attempt to guarantee uniqueness.

However, a recent ruling by the EU's Office for Harmonisation of Internal Markets saw Sky prevailing over Skype, with the latter's name and logo being judged too similar to Sky's. Skype intends to appeal.

BSkyB is also opposing Skype's trademark applications in India and Norway.

If Skype's existing name or logo are found to conflict with BSkyB's trademark rights (or those of companies operating elsewhere in the world), it would be faced with the choice of obtaining a licence from the trademark holder(s) - which could prove difficult or prohibitively expensive - or going through a rebranding exercise.



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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.


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