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EU court backs Sky over Skype trademark complaint

Skype registered its logo with the EU's trademark body in 2004, a year after Sky. But Rupert Murdoch's UK broadcaster says the logo of Microsoft's digital communications giant could be confused with its own.

The General Court for the EU-backed UK broadcaster Sky's trademark complaint against Microsoft's digital communications giant Skype.

The EU court said that there were "visual, phonetic and conceptual" similarities between the two logos, including the fact that "Sky" is included in the word sign "Skype."

Sky registered its trademark for audiovisual and online products in 2003 while Skype had not filed until 2004 and 2005.

The UK broadcaster, known for its premium TV services, formally complained to the EU's Office for the Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), arguing that there could be confusion between the two trademarks. The EU's trademark watchdog upheld Sky's complaint.

Confusion 'confirmed'

BSkyB Logo

The court said there was a medium degree of visual similarity between the two logos

However, Skype challenged the OHIM's decision, taking the matter to the General Court of the EU. Judges in Luxembourg on Tuesday backed the OHIM's judgment that Sky had reason to believe its trademark could be confused with Skype's name and logo.

The court's judgment noted that "the existence of a likelihood of confusion was confirmed, for the relevant public in the United Kingdom, even taking into account a higher level of attention on the part of the relevant public."

Skype is able to challenge the general court's decision and take the matter to the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest arbiter.

"We're confident no confusion exists between these brands and services," a Microsoft spokesperson said, the DPA news agency reported on Tuesday.

"This decision does not require us to alter product names in any way," the spokesperson added.

ls/jil (ARD, dpa, Reuters)