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Murdoch sues Skype for using his three letters

Rupert Murdoch has launched a legal challenge at VoIP service Skype over the use of the word 'Sky' in its name, which he claims is confusing with his own company's brand, Sky

Rupert Murdoch, melted Peter Cushing lookalike and creator of Sky TV, has launched a legal challenge at VoIP service Skype over using the word 'Sky' in its name and logo.

In announcing its intention to float Skype on the New York Stock Exchange, the owners of the Internet service mentioned the challenge from BSkyB over using its name in the EU, the Independent reports.

Despite winning cases to use the name in Switzerland, Turkey and Brazil already, a ruling last month found in favour of BSkyB's claim that the similar brand names and logos were confusing to the consumer.

Though no official case for trademark infringement has been brought against Skype, which could see it forced to cease trading under their name in the EU, it is worried about the possibility.

If Sky were to win the legal battle and Skype was forced to use a different name, it "may have a material adverse effect on our business", the company noted. Skype, a name which has already become synonymous with free Internet calls, would essentially have to rebuild its brand from scratch in the EU.

A spokesperson for BSkyB said it's been in a "five year dispute" with Skype. "The key contention in the dispute is that the brands 'Sky' and 'Skype' will be considered confusingly similar by members of the public," they added.

It's hard to tell if Sky and Skype are actually competitors, which may be Sky's main motivation. Both are in the business of telephony, Sky providing landline calls and broadband whereas Skype's calls are over the Internet. Nevertheless, for Murdoch the similarity is too much to bear.

If Sky does win, it could lead to a raft of similar cases: TWiT could sue Twitter, the creators of the A-Team could go after Facebook, and Rupert probably already has his eye on a certain brand of lubrication.