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November 08, 2007
Fight for a "free magenta"

In The Netherlands, a social movement is born to protect the free use of the magenta colour in communication materials. The fight has begun recently, when mobile carrier T-Mobile has started a legal fight versus a series of Dutch brands such as Slam FM, Compello and 100% NL which magenta in their logo.

Basically T-Mobile claims it owns the rights to use magenta in commercial materials, saying the registered them at the Oami... It's such a silly thing!

I remember a similar case a few years ago, when Easy entered the mobile phones market and Orange started a legal action against easyMobile over its use of the color orange to promote telecommunications services. I don't know the end of the story, but I think it's curious to note mobile carriers have a complex with branding colours...

Comments on this entry

I'm sure T-Mobile can protect its use of the color in the mobile phone industry, but I cannot see how it would be appropriate to fight companies in other sectors...if they win these battles, this could set a very interesting precedent.


Posted by: David Isserman at November 8, 2007 03:44 PM


Same thing happened in Belgium with Belgacom and their association of two colors (turquoise and orange). It was a big legal mess and they were like nearly wining the juridic fight after months and years of battle.

But then, guess what happened? For a totally different reason, they changed their logo (and colors :-)

Posted by: Frederic at November 8, 2007 04:20 PM


David, I agree with you. I'm ok if the restricted use of a color it's limited to an industry.

If they win this case, we will have Coke claiming the red, Heineken claiming the green etc... We will end up in a black & white world. Even if I'm sure someone has already registered the rights for these colors as well... :-(

Posted by: Martina at November 8, 2007 04:47 PM


Oh Martina, there's no way for a black and white world. White may soon be owned by Apple. :)

Posted by: Greg Albrecht at November 8, 2007 10:16 PM


And Nike will take the balck. We will have to start thinking new colors!
The doubt I have is: will not be possible to use a different magenta, just like 0.1 % more red or something? how can they copyright the whole spectrum?

Posted by: Ed Wood at November 9, 2007 09:03 AM


One word: Silly!
More words: I wonder how much T-mobile's action tells us about their confidence in their brand? If I was a stakeholder of T-mobile, I would worry about their strength to keep and further build their brand.

Posted by: andy at November 9, 2007 09:32 AM


No comment.

Posted by: benni at November 9, 2007 04:59 PM


What's really dumb, in this case, is that it's impossible to display a true magenta on screen. We can only get so close with RGB.

Posted by: Ricky Irvine at November 9, 2007 07:21 PM


we will have Coke claiming the red, Heineken claiming the green

In essence, you do. Companies will do a couple things to protect their color -- the first is usually to create a specific mix that is there's and then brand it as such: Coke Red. There are a couple of reasons to do this actually, and that is part do to the trademarks of the color matching companies.

For instance, Mobile Oil has Mobile Red and Mobile Blue -- in reality these are very close to specific Pantone Colors, but they can't say that Mobile Blue is PMS XXX, or Mobile Red is PMS XXX. That would infringe on Pantone's trademark. So they for their own protection, and to protect them against the service companies they will use their own mix.

Well written identity manuals will often say something like, "Company X's colors are Company X Color Z and Company X Color Y. Color Z is A/B/C/D and can be matched with PMS XXX and Color Y is Z/Y/X/W and can be matched with PMS XXX" or something else to appease the legal departments of all involved. It would just not be okay for them to claim a specific color matching system's color value and number as their own.

Posted by: Inaudible Nonsense at November 10, 2007 03:53 AM


Sign the petition:

Posted by: ed at November 11, 2007 05:34 PM


So... Coke won't own their red because Pantone may own it and Coke licences it. That's so much better � trading one monopolistic attitude for another.

As a company why would what to have a industry-saturated colour (no pun intended) anyways? Come on Creatives, can we use our noggins for once.

I demand every monitor sold comes preconfigured with a calibration device so as I won't get sued for viewing Mcdonalds 'Muddy Sunset Yellow'.

Posted by: j becker at November 11, 2007 08:09 PM


It's awful then someone wants to register phrases-slogans, colors and another attributes which serve to describe the world.
Branding stopped be good for consumers as marketers found out that brands can sell themselves even if the commodity is crap.

Posted by: IdeaLog at November 11, 2007 09:58 PM


Wow, that's pretty ridiculous.

Posted by: Kathryn Hill at November 11, 2007 10:41 PM


Does Coke have their own licensed Pantone color or not? I've heard of this before, but wasn't sure if it was true. Is it?

Posted by: Down10 at November 12, 2007 09:11 AM


Allowing T-Mobile to "claim" the rights to a specific color that is so common wouldn't just set a n interesting precedent, it would set a dangerous one. I'm ok with certain colors or combinations being protected within an industry (e.g. UPS and the color brown) but a boundary has to be set. What would stop IBM ("Big Blue")from preventing every other company from using the color blue? T-Mobile should wake up and realize that they are wasting money on a pointless legal action that could be better spent on branding efforts or product research.

Posted by: eric at November 14, 2007 03:05 PM


If only it were that easy to secure your brand identity with a color like magenta.

Posted by: AboutTheBrand at November 16, 2007 04:58 AM


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