Rupert Murdoch claims to own the 'Sky' in 'Skype'

Kevin Rawlinson
Tuesday 10 August 2010 12:23
Comments

Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB is fighting a legal battle with the internet telecommunications pioneer Skype, claiming that it owns the “Sky” in “Skype”.

Skype yesterday announced that it plans to float on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York. BSkyB’s legal challenge to Skype using its name within the EU was revealed in the 250-page document announcing the intended flotation.

Skype notes that its applications “in respect of the Skype name are being opposed by BSkyB plc”.

The company says that it has won the right to use its name in Switzerland, Turkey and Brazil, but that the European Union has ruled against it. Skype intends to appeal the decision “if necessary to the General Court at the Court of Justice of the European Community”.

If defeated in court, the company could be barred from trading under its own name if it is found to be in competition with Sky. The two companies operate in the field of telephony and could, therefore, be considered competitors, leading to possible confusion in the market-place.

The Name Inspector, a company name analyst blog, told paidContent:UK: “On the Skype forum, an employee reveals that the name was derived from the expression sky peer-to-peer.

“Some people might interpret Skype as a more conventional blend of sky with something that rhymes with Skype, like hype–or pipe, ripe, type, wipe.”

A spokesman for Sky confirmed that the company has been involved in a “five-year dispute with Skype” over trademark applications filed by the telecomms company. These are, the spokesman added: “including, but not limited to, television-related goods and services.

“The key contention in the dispute is that the brands ‘Sky’ and ‘Skype’ will be considered confusingly similar by members of the public. This was supported by consumer research conducted by Sky, and which was taken into account by the relevant authorities when they recently found in Sky’s favour.

Sky pointed out that, at this stage it has not brought any proceedings for trade mark infringement against Skype and its action is aimed at seeking assurances that Skype will not register trademarks in areas where it would come into competition with Sky.

In the document, filed earlier this week, Skype noted that, if it were unsuccessful in registering its trademark, it “may have a material adverse effect on our business. Moreover, a successful opposition to our application in one or more countries might encourage BSkyB or other third parties to make additional oppositions or commence trademark infringement proceedings.”

The document also carried the warning that, if BSkyB were to pursue litigation, the defence could be “costly and time consuming even if we were ultimately to prevail.

“If we were not ultimately to prevail in any such litigation to prevent our use of the Skype name or logo, we could be precluded from using the Skype name or logo in one or more jurisdictions without obtaining a license from BSkyB or such other third parties, which license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.”

This newspaper reported yesterday that Skype, formerly owned by eBay, has 560 million registered users, and has logged 95 billion minutes of voice and video calls in the first half of 2010.

It was bought by a consortium led by Silicon Valley venture capitalists Silver Lake with Andreessen Horowitz, a fund which was set up by the web browser pioneer Marc Andreessen.

A spokesman from Skype was unavailable for further comment yesterday.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in