Trademark Lawsuit Forces Microsoft To Rebrand SkyDrive
August 1, 2013

Trademark Lawsuit Forces Microsoft To Rebrand SkyDrive

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Microsoft has spent the last year heavily promoting its SkyDrive cloud-based storage service and now it looks like it will have to come up with another name. This follows a UK court ruling that the Microsoft SkyDrive name infringed on a trademark owned by British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB). As a result the Redmond, Washington-based software giant has agreed to change the name of the cloud-based service worldwide.

On Wednesday it was announced that Microsoft will not appeal the court ruling, and BSkyB will reportedly allow Microsoft to continue using the brand "for a reasonable period of time to allow for an orderly transition to a new brand."

After this period Microsoft will need to rebrand the service, but it is not clear how soon Microsoft could announce a new name.

While Microsoft could have appealed the case, especially given that "sky" is a fairly generic term, the company chose to settle the case. This settlement reportedly also includes some financial terms, but the details have not been released.

"We're glad to have resolution of this naming dispute, and will continue to deliver the great service our hundreds of millions of customers expect, providing the best way to always have your files with you," Microsoft said in a statement via email, reported by Venture Beat.

This is not the first time Microsoft has had to agree to a name change in recent memory. This case follows a similar legal dispute that resulted in Microsoft having to stop using the term "Metro" for its Windows 8 user interface and applications. Whilst it never made it to court, German based Metro AG reportedly took issue with Microsoft's use of the word "metro." In the end Microsoft adopted the moniker "Modern UI" for its new Windows 8 tier-based design.

Moreover, while Microsoft could have likely fought -- and even won -- both of these trademark disputes, the company may have felt it has spent enough time in courts in Europe. The tech giant has had a slew of legal woes going back more than a decade with the European Commission's top antitrust regulars.

In March the European Commission fined Microsoft $732 million US for breaking a legally binding commitment that had been in place since 2009 for failing to offer users a choice of browsers on its Windows operating system (OS).

It is unclear what this name change might mean for the SkyDrive service, or even what Microsoft's options for a name could be. SkyDrive currently competes with Dropbox, Google Drive, SugarSync and other cloud storage providers. Amazon also currently uses the "Cloud Drive" name. SkyDrive offers users 7GB of free file storage and has apps for Windows Phone, Windows 7, Windows 8, Android and iOS.

Moreover, while the name might change it could still likely "unofficially" continue to be known as "SkyDrive." As TechCrunch noted, while the Windows 8 interface has a new name, "most people still call it 'Metro.'"

What is also notable in this showdown over the word "sky" is that Google continues to use GoogleSky for its service devoted to astronomy. Apparently BSkyB hasn't seen a problem with that name.

The British-based Sky TV has been in the spotlight in recent weeks thanks to the attention it has garnered in the recently concluded 100th edition of the Tour de France bicycle race. Team Sky Pro Cycling's Chris Froome won the race, and this marks the second year in a row that a rider from the team sponsored by Sky TV has achieved this victory. Perhaps that had convinced the company winning was in the cards.