Microsoft will be renaming SkyDrive, its personal cloud storage offering that the company has been touting as a big part of Windows 8 and the upcoming Windows 8.1.
Microsoft is doing so after reaching a settlement with British Sky Broadcasting Group, which had contended that Microsoft’s use of the name “SkyDrive” infringed on the British company’s “Sky” trademark.
An English High Court judge had ruled in June that Microsoft had indeed infringed on British Sky Broadcasting’s trademark.
The broadcast company provides TV as well as broadband services in the United Kingdom. Over the years, the company has trademarked other offerings which include the word “Sky” followed by another word, such as Sky Movies, Sky Sports, Sky Digital and Sky Photos, according to a court document.
The settlement today allows Microsoft to continue to temporarily use the SkyDrive name until it comes up with a new one. Microsoft also agreed not to appeal the judge’s decision, according to a news release.
A Microsoft spokesman declined to say when the company will come up with the new name or what it is likely to be.
“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 the news release.
British Sky Broadcasting said in the release that “we will remain vigilant in protecting the Sky brand and will continue to take appropriate action against those companies who seek to use our trade mark without consent.”
Microsoft has been making a big push for SkyDrive, positioning it as the cloud storage service at the center of its consumer vision. That vision is of people having a number of devices (tablets, phones, PCs, consoles) that all connect to a central storage location — SkyDrive — thereby allowing the devices to remain constantly connected to services, synced with each other, and serve as portals to personal files and content no matter where a person is.
Most recently, Microsoft had been publicizing that SkyDrive would be the default save location for Windows 8.1. (Traditionally, the default save location was a person’s local drive.)
This sort of naming and trademark issue has come up before for Microsoft, most notably with “Metro” — the name it had given its tile-based user interface that’s at the heart of Windows 8. Microsoft had already used the name “Metro” in many public presentations leading up to the release of Windows 8. But then it dropped that name after German company Metro AG raised the issue of trademarks. Microsoft is now referring to that tile interface as “Modern UI” or “Windows 8 UI.”
A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment on why, given the resources the company spends on intellectual property issues, such possible trademark violations did not come up when the company devised the names.
[Update 12:52 p.m.: A number of suggestions have been flying around Twitter on what Microsoft should call SkyDrive now. Among the suggestions: SkyDie, Microsoft Drive, Azure Drive. My colleague, Brier Dudley, offers more suggestions in his poll on what the new name should be.]