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BSkyB disputes Skype trademark as too close to Sky

LONDON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - British pay-TV group BSkyB BSY.L has challenged registration of the trademark Skype by the Internet phone service provider on the grounds that the name is confusingly close to its own Sky brand.

A spokesman for the satellite TV group said it was in dispute over the trademark applications but had not yet brought any proceedings for trademark infringement against Skype.

“The key contention in the dispute is that the brands ‘Sky’ and ‘Skype’ will be considered confusingly similar by members of the public,” the spokesman said. “This was supported by consumer research conducted by Sky.”

Internet phone services provider Skype filed on Monday to raise up to $100 million through an IPO, hoping that its wide name recognition and rapid growth would help draw investors. [ID:nSGE6780GY]

In a section on risks in the filing, it said its application to register the trademark Skype had been opposed by third parties, including BSkyB, which is part owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp NWSA.O.

“These oppositions are based on BSkyB’s claimed rights with respect to the mark ‘Sky’,” it said.

Skype and BSkyB said the EU had recently ruled in BSkyB’s favour over a logo, which Skype said it would appeal. It said if it ultimately lost it could be prevented from using the Skype name or logo without a licence, which might not be available or not available on commercially reasonable terms.

Skype was founded in 2003 and was acquired by eBay Inc EBAY.O in 2005 for $3.1 billion. Last November eBay sold a majority stake in the firm to an investor group that included Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Andreessen Horowitz for $1.9 billion in cash and a $125 million note. EBay retained 30 percent. (Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Will Waterman)