John Legere, CEO and admiral of T-Mobile USA, sports one of his characteristic amethyst T-shirts. Its parent, Deutsche Telekom, is cogent a baby allowance aggregation not to use the color. John Moore/Getty Images adumbrate explanation
Daniel Schreiber, the CEO of a baby allowance aggregation alleged Lemonade, was afraid this summer aback he accustomed a acerb worded letter from attorneys at one of the world’s better telecom companies.
“At some akin I knew it wasn’t a joke, but it abiding articulate like one,” he said.
The letter was from Deutsche Telekom, the ancestor aggregation of T-Mobile, and it accused Lemonade of burglary its trademark.
But, oddly, the altercation wasn’t over the name T-Mobile or alike its logo or tagline. It was over a color. In this case, Pantone Rhodamine Red U, additionally accepted as magenta.
“You’re talking about the one of the three ink cartridges in every printer in the world,” Schreiber said. “The abstraction that a aggregation can cast it and own it, aloof defied acceptance and I was in a accompaniment of disbelief.”
Lemonade does use a lot of amethyst in its branding — admitting Schreiber insists it’s absolutely blush — and T-Mobile was about saying: Hey, aback off our color.
This isn’t T-Mobile’s aboriginal color-based acknowledged dispute. In 2014, the aggregation sued battling AT&T for application a adumbration of asset that was cautiously agnate to magenta. And over the years T-Mobile has gone afterwards a lot of added companies, including a British IT close and a now-defunct smartwatch maker.
T-Mobile told NPR that it has lots of businesses above aloof wireless account and the aggregation feels it’s important that there’s no abashing aback barter see the blush magenta.
T-Mobile has absolutely leaned into its affiliation with the color. Aside from actuality splashed beyond all of its branding, its CEO, John Legere, never goes out in accessible after a amethyst T-shirt and his custom-built amethyst sneakers. He alike absolute his beard amethyst beforehand this year.
So, can a aggregation absolutely affirmation buying over a color?
It can, according to Robert Zelnick, a cast advocate at McDermott Will & Emery. He says it all goes aback to the 1980s and a aggregation alleged Owens Corning, which makes blush fiberglass insulation for houses.
“They claimed rights to the blush blush for fiberglass insulation,” Zelnick says. “Some bodies will bethink the ‘think pink’ attack and the Blush Panther and lots of added tie-ins for that.”
Zelnick says Owens Corning was able to prove that the cast was affiliated to the blush blush in people’s minds, and the aggregation was accepted a cast on the color, upending added than a aeon of accepted acknowledged wisdom.
Many companies accept back gone to cloister to assure their characteristic hues. Think Tiffany dejected or Cadbury purple.
But will the courts acquiesce T-Mobile to accumulate magenta? Schreiber, the CEO of Lemonade, says he’s bent to accomplish abiding that doesn’t happen.