T-Mobile: because we have a (stupid) trademark on one magenta shade, no one can use pink in their logos

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/05/risible-visible.html

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Wow, this is insane…

For everyone that is confused (like I was) by T-Mobile and Deutche Telekom being used interchangeably, this is from the T-Mobile Wikipedia:

T-Mobile (stylised as ·T···Mobile· ) is the brand name used by the mobile communications subsidiaries of the German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom AG.

An if you (like I did) missed some imagery that allows you to make up your own mind about the shades of pink in use here:

T-Mobile:

Lemonade:

Comparison made by lemonaid:

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Owens Corning is going to take issue with that, since they already have the color pink trademarked.

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Inside baseball: If you offhandedly call a logo at T-Mobile “pink” in the presence of an exec or director they’ll freak the fuck out.

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I suppose they are asking the attention of DC comics.

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If a company can one every pinkish purplish colour I would only take a handful companies to have similar trademarks for all colours to be off the table. Then some company can trademark white, black and grey.

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Brand colors are Serious Business.

I work in translation/localization, and a few years ago we had an interpretation job for a certain telecommunication services company, a rival of T-Mobile in my country. The interpreter was in the middle of being briefed before the event started, when some manager showed up, made a horrified face and said “you can’t wear that!

Turns out that his shirt (that he was wearing under his suit jacket) was… wait for it… faint pink. Gasp, shock, it’s just a few thousand shades away from T-Mobile’s shade of bright magenta! Poor guy was whisked away into the bathroom and given a new, blue shirt to wear for the event, blue being the brand color of the company.

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I think “Orange” did the same thing for their own shade of… orange.

image

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When I was doing work for Folgers, it was an unwritten rule that nobody wore blue to any meetings, blue being the shade of Maxwell House.

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Serious Business, indeed! Since that incident then we always instruct our interpreters to avoid wearing any shade that might be anywhere in the same ballpark… well, golf course… as the brand colors of the client company’s rivals.

Myself, though, I’m just a humble office worker, who happens to own a bright magenta shirt similar to T-Mobile’s color, and I confess to getting a kick out of wearing it every time this particular company’s reps visited the office (they weren’t my client so I wasn’t involved in their projects).

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How the hell can you get a trademark on color? I’m sure there are prior use case in nature for (nearly) all colors.

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image

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Although Lemonade do use a single letter for some logo purposes:

To this layman’s eye, the case isn’t much better, since the use of a single letter that isn’t the plaintif’s shouldn’t be infringing, especially if they’re not in the same business.

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By establishing that a specific shade is a unique and integral part of your brand. Usually by using that color for a number of years and then making the case that the public associates that shade with your logo/brand. It’s tied in closely to specific Pantone colors. I used to have a little reference guide of the PMS colors trademarked by the various P&G brands, so we’d have “P&G Blue”, “Folgers Red”, “Tide Orange”, etc.

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As much as I disagree with the idea of trademarking colors, the article is not quite correct with the details. A German court has ruled that Lemonade can’t use their (purple) logo for marketing on the German market because of Deutsche Telekom’s trademark (on magenta). Technically, T-Mobile -and even less their US branch or the US market at all- are not even envolved. The fact that Lemonade are based in NY doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that Deutsche T-Ekelkom still upholds this silly trademark - or the fact that 1970s (international) trademark laws are quite out of time in these days of the global market.

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Is that a German pun, or just clumsy fingers?

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Alas, applying a law in one country often had the effect of forcing a global implementation. For example a company wouldn’t want to have to manage multiple versions of their app with different color schemes for different countries, so they would make a global switch to the least-litigious one.

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I’m calling it pink right now. Find me a T-Mobile exec, stat!

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And then there’s Ken Nordine’s Magenta:

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