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Sky Win Court Case Against Microsoft's SkyDrive Name

SkyDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service that allows users to upload files and access them from anywhere. Sky, on the other hand, is a TV broadcaster owned by News Corporation. That latter company have recently won in the England and Wales High Court against Microsoft for infringing on the trademarked ‘Sky’ name. This judgement was passed recently after an eight day trial in April 2013.
This case began in June 2011 when Sky tried to prevent Microsoft for using the name SkyDrive throughout the European Union.
Sky is primarily a TV service, but they have been expanding their platform in order to take advantage of growing audiences in other media. As such, Sky also offers things such as online streaming and mobile apps that make use of the cloud. Sky did actually used to have an online storage service called Store & Share, but they closed this down at the end of 2011 after running it for three years.
Microsoft counteracted Sky’s claims “on the grounds of descriptiveness for cloud storage services”. Essentially, Microsoft believes that consumers won’t get confused between SkyDrive and any services offered by Sky.
It is possible that Sky is looking to relaunch their cloud service, but that’s only rumours at this point. However, it does seem odd that Sky is complaining about the name when Microsoft launched the service way back in 2007. It’s worth noting that in 2010, Sky filed a similar case against Microsoft because they felt that Skype infringed on their name. That case never amounted to anything, however.
The judge ruling over the SkyDrive case concluded that the reach and range of the Sky brand could mean that consumers might think SkyDrive is linked. It was also stated that the SkyDrive name would be detrimental to the Sky brand – a ruling which makes it copyright infringement.
Microsoft sent TechCrunch a message about the ruling. They said that “this case is only about the SkyDrive name and has nothing to do with service availability or future innovation” and that “the decision is one step in the legal process and Microsoft intends to appeal”.
Microsoft is, quite sensibly, not letting this go down easily. They’ve spent around six years building up the SkyDrive name, so having to change it for Europe would be a big blow. It might further confuse consumers if SkyDrive exists under two different names depending on the territory. Microsoft may just have to rebrand the service worldwide to overcome that, a step which isn’t to be taken lightly.
When TechCrunch reached out to Sky for a comment, they said that “Sky is pleased with the judgment handed down today by Mrs Justice Asplin. We regard any unauthorised use of the Sky name as a clear infringement of our well-established Sky brand. We remain vigilant in protecting the Sky brand and will continue to take appropriate action against those companies that seek to use our trademarks without consent”.
If you’re interested, you can read the lengthy account of the court case online. You can be sure that’ll you hear about this case again in the near future.

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