SkypeJournal has a rather interesting account of some of the latest actions from Skype, and its possible they may be a target next. I honestly thought that under the ever improving reign of Skype GM Henry Gomez, a person well versed in public relations, crisis communications and overall how to keep things on good terms from his years of Telco and Finance communications expertise, that things like this in Skype had stopped, for they had. This became most evident after they switched agencies dealing with the Bloggers and Media from Spark PR in SF to Kaplow in NY and Henry started spending a lot more time in London.
In business this is called protecting the trademark, and while I'm not a trademark and copyright attorney, I can safely say that letters like that go out all the time. Those with understanding simply do what my lawyers once told me to do the first time I received one back in my days at a top ten ad agency. That was after we ran a promotion to give away a JEEP, and had already in the print ad in USA TODAY disclaimed that Jeep was a registered trademark of Chrysler Corporation. I followed the lawyers instruction. I threw the letter in the trash.
So to follow the fine advice I had received all Jan needed to do (if he hadn't done it) was to disclaim ownership of the Skype name on his blog. Since the word Gadgets is generic he can't protect that or the combined name, as he owns neither, any more than I can claim VoIPWatch as the Pulver folks had it first.
The reason letters like that go out are to simply for the purpose of being able to demonstrate that Skype is seeking to protect their trademark, so it does not become generic, the same way Kleenex and Xerox have done for years to keep their marks from evaporating, because there's equity in a brand name.
Hopefully after Henry and his counselors return to the office on Monday some cooler and more logical heads will prevail. The attorney was only doing their job, but in this case, its about the Right Hand, telling the Left Hand how to do it and why that kind of approach was needed.
Update-- After reading Russell's post of the letter I'd say also that the web site owner may have overreacted a bit. While a lot of the letter is overkill, as boilerplate tends to be, the closing graph that Russell has posted shows that all the attorney is really saying is they won't endorse (i.e. give permission) for promotional activities. This is far from a takedown demand, but does make one wonder if some other protectionist activities are afoot.
Even with that said, cooler heads should have been involved here, especially when you consider the person with the two web sites has a relationship with some folks associated with Skype in a positive, and promotional manner.