Oops! A number of Skype’s domain names are still registered in the names of people who no longer work for the company.
The embarrassing oversight was revealed in the company’s S-1 registration statement (huge HTML file), filed yesterday as the company prepares to launch its IPO.
Here’s the relevant section, with my emphasis.
Third parties have registered domain names that contain the Skype trademark without our consent, and a small proportion of the Skype domain names are registered in the names of our former employees rather than in our name. While we are seeking to have these domain names transferred to us, we may not be successful and to the extent that Skype domain names are not under our control in certain countries, it could hinder our marketing efforts, cause confusion to our users and may harm our reputation in those countries if those domain names are used in ways unrelated to our business or in ways with which we would not agree.
The company appears to be having a hard time protecting its brand in the offline world, too.
According to the S-1, News Corp arm BskyB, which runs Sky TV in the UK, has been objecting to Skype’s trademark applications, and it recently manage to block one such application in the EU.
It’s also having problems getting trademark protection in Asia, where others have registered very similar marks.