Did one telecom company use another's trademarked color on purpose?
That's what T-Mobile is arguing, at least as far as telecom services go. In a new lawsuit against AT&T — or rather, an AT&T subsidiary called Aio Wireless, T-Mobile accuses Aio of using its traditional color, magenta, to brand new services and says that it could result in the two companies getting confused.
"With full knowledge of T-Mobile’s use of magenta, AT&T’s subsidiary chose — out of all the colors in the spectrum — magenta to advertise, market and promote its wireless services in direct competition with T-Mobile," the formal complaint reads. "Aio does not use the orange coverage map of its parent company, but instead uses in its stores and on its website a magenta coverage map that is strikingly similar in color to the one used by T-Mobile."
A T-Mobile spokesperson later added that AT&T "has been trying to get a free ride from T-Mobile’s success . . . . We filed this lawsuit to stop them, and to protect T-Mobile’s powerful magenta trademark."
This isn't the first time T-Mobile has tried to block others from using its color. But what does T-Mobile really mean when it says "magenta"? It's only slightly more specific than saying "purple," but it's still a broad term that could capture any number of hues. In fact, a quick survey of T-Mobile's own materials online appears to show that T-Mobile has sometimes used various shades of magenta.
If you take various screenshots of said samples and identify the colors using Photoshop, you get different results. For example:
Now let's look at Aio's logo, grabbed from their website.
In hex, Aio's version of magenta maps to #960051.
If you really want to get technical, T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom, owns a German trademark for shade of magenta known as RAL 4010, which translates to hex #c63678. In 2007, Deutsche Telekom registered a trademark on magenta with the U.S. Patent Office. Here's the canonical T-Mobile magenta, as expressed in the company's court filing:
Which is still not the same as Aio's color, though if Aio called its color magenta, then there'd be problems.
AT&T spokesperson Aio spokesperson, Kathy Van Buskirk, fired back in a snarky reply: "T-Mobile needs an art lesson. Aio doesn’t do magenta."