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Rupert Murdoch could be about to make Skype change its name

The video messaging company has come off worse in a legal battle with the Australian media mogul’s Sky PLC.

skype Source: 1000heads

SKYPE HAS BECOME a household name over the last decade or so, but that name could be about to change.

The video messaging service, a predominantly free one, has been involved in a protracted intellectual property battle with Rupert Murdoch’s news giant Sky PLC for over a decade now.

Skype has for some time been the dominant video messager, both for keeping in touch with friends and family across the globe, but also to a greater and greater extent for businesses worldwide, for everything from interviewing candidates to video conference calling with clients.

Yesterday, the EU’s Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) ruled in a judgement that Sky’s opposition to Skype’s trademark is valid, both because Skype contains the letters ‘sky’ and also as the two brands haven’t existed side by side for long enough to rule out the likelihood of confusion.

rlupton Ronan Lupton Source: Law Library

Sky initially filed their own trademark application in 2003, with Skype following suit in 2004 and 2005.

So what does all this mean for Skype’s future?

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, barrister and media and intellectual property expert Ronan Lupton said that this one probably has “some distance left to run”.

“A finding has been made, but the exact implications of it are not yet clear,” says Lupton.

Is the decision potentially very financially damaging to Skype? Yes.
Might they have to change their name? Yes.
I think it’s also interesting that the OHIM found that the fact Skype might be run over a Sky broadband network has no relevance to the finding.

Lupton also thinks that the decision is one with merit.

“More tech-savvy users may be very clear that Skype and Sky are not one and the same,” he says.

But that doesn’t mean that more regular consumers wouldn’t confuse the two, or even think that Skype is a subsidiary of Sky. 

But Skype’s legal fight isn’t necessarily finished just yet.

The company still has the option to appeal the OHIM’s decision before the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest arbiter.

Read: Microsoft has some massive plans to make Windows relevant again

Read: There is a ‘Skype facility’ in Leinster House after all. Well, sort of…

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