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E.U. court can't tell Skype from Sky

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As William Shakespeare famously said in “Romeo and Juliet,” “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

But Mr. Shakespeare, perhaps to his credit, never worked in marketing.

The nomenclature issue comes up in connection with a court battle between Microsoft, which owns the Skype Internet voice and video conferencing service, and Rupert Murdoch's satellite television business, Sky.

A European Union court held Tuesday that Skype's name is so similar to Sky's that the public is likely to be confused between the two and held that, as a result, Microsoft could not register a trademark for Skype's name and logo, according to news reports.

“Conceptually, the figurative element conveys no concept, except perhaps that of a cloud,” said the court.

“(That) would further increase the likelihood of the element 'sky' being recognized within the word element Skype for clouds are to be found 'in the sky' and thus may readily be associated with the word 'sky,' says the ruling, in terminology that would probably appall Shakespeare.

Microsoft plans to appeal the ruling, according to reports.