December 2019. It’s a privilege given to very few trademarks: to be allowed to exercise an exclusive claim to a specific colour. That said, you’ll find several colour trademarks in the European trademark register. These are trademarks registered by companies that have successfully shown that their products or services can be recognised throughout the EU by their colour alone. One well-known example is telecoms company T-Mobile’s magenta colour trademark.
The magenta colour trademark (photo: Mateus Maia – Unsplash)
Once a trademark owner has managed to secure a unique European colour trademark, they must be rigorous in protecting it. This means they must file object as soon as a third party starts using the same colour. Failure to do so risks the trademark being ‘diluted’ and losing its strength. Deutsche Telecom, T-Mobile’s parent company, takes its responsibility in this area very seriously.
Recently, for example, the US firm Lemonade was ordered to suspend use of the colour magenta in its marketing in Germany, according to the website Adage, after a German court ruled that Lemonade had infringed T-mobile’s trademark rights. This is an interesting ruling, given that Lemonade isn’t a telecoms company but an insurance firm – a completely different sphere of activity, you might argue.
EU trademark registration to the colour magenta: invalid?
But Lemonade isn’t leaving it at that. In October, it applied to the European Trademark Office EUIPO to have T-Mobile’s EU registration declared invalid. Lemonade claimed that the colour magenta wasn’t associated with T-Mobile in all EU countries. So it’ll be interesting to see if T-Mobile’s attack on Lemonade ends up having a boomerang effect!
European registration magenta nr. 000212787