Colour trademark Magenta: Deutsche Telekom vs. Lemonade
The dispute about the colour trademark Magenta of Deutsche Telekom, which has been registered since 1995, has received a great deal of media attention. The start-up company Lemonade has applied to the German Patent Office for the cancellation of the trademark for the insurance sector and to the EU Patent Office for the EU cancellation of the trademark. Furthermore, a social media campaign has been launched under the hashtag #freethepink.
Unbelievable but true: Telekom is trying to declare the color magenta its property and to take it away from as many areas of application as possible. This also applies to industries in which it is not active at all. Several companies have already followed the corresponding warnings sent by Telekom, including Lemonade, which has been advertising in red instead of its actual corporate color magenta since 2018, but is now fighting back. This is courageous and of great importance for the future of freedom from color.
A DPMA trade mark search shows that telecom magenta was registered in very different ways, even in red areas. So not only the exact telemagenta (RAL 4010), but a whole range between violet, pink and red is owned by Telekom. Unfortunately, there are no rules and judgments whatsoever as to how much DeltaE a permissible colour must deviate from a colour mark. Other color brand owners are likely to follow the aggressive Telekom example – eventually we will end up in a world where the free use of colors is no longer allowed because they “belong” to someone else. If we do not want this, we have to do something about it. (Holger Everding)
DPMA trademark search “Colour trademark, Telekom”
Trademark Search German Patent and Trademark Office:
(select “colour mark” as the trade mark form and register “Telekom” as the owner)
Twitter campaign “#freethepink”:
Instagram campaign “#freethepink”:
Supplement 07.12.2019: Pink-Out Extension
A lemonade developer has published a chrome extension which replaces all magenta tones from a website with grey. This should make the web legally compliant. On the one hand this is meant humorously, but on the other hand it is a logical consequence of trademark law.