Jun 16, 2008

Magenta is Dead, Long Live to Magenta!

Dead MagentaThis is a very strange story even for the branding world.

Deutsche Telekom AG has claimed trademarked rights over the color magenta, -apparently for the T-Mobile brand- and was trying in fact to force other companies to change their corporate logo "due to color infringement".

Most of those companies are based in the Netherlands, but the threat made their way to the US, as they also sent a letter to Engadget mobile for their use of the color.

I really don't know where to start with this one. It is so, so, so unbelievable that it seems like a joke, but it isn't one (here you can see the letter they sent to Engadget).

Of course they pick the wrong fight and half Netherlands first and half the world later, got behind a social movement called "Free Magenta". Designers from all parts of the world sent their illustrations or their thoughts about such a bold move. And while I do understand that companies need to try as much as possible to protect their brand identities, as someone said, "If the colour is so important to a brand, is a weak brand".

Let's face it. It makes all the sense in the world to try to fight SIMILAR logos in the SAME industry with the SAME color. But to fight the use of a color in brands that have nothing in similar except the color, like Compello or SlamFM is absurd. Now, more absurd seems to be the fact that they allowed a company to trademark a color.

As always I don't understand how no one at Deutsche Telekom could foresee that just their threatening would be more damaging to the brand they are supposedly trying to protect, than any use of the color by any other brand!

I must confess I HATE magenta, but that doesn't mean I want it banned or used by just one company. And I simply love some of the creative work that designers have sent to Free Magenta as the one below, sent by Creative Bastards....

Pantone by Brands

I would entitled this pantone, "Imagine".... What if every big brand would trademark their color?
If you are not allergic to such a bright color, take a look at the Free Magenta site, you will find some other good ideas exploring a world without magenta! And if you are interested in the legal aspects of this fight, you may want to read more at ServiceMarks, a blog about trademarks laws in Germany.

As far as I know, Deutsche Telekom already lost a lawsuit they filed against rival European wireless carrier Telia over the use of magenta on its logo but until March of this year, Compella was still trying to avoid a lawsuit: changing their color to a "Red Rubin" that was not good enough change for the Deutche telecom lawyers, according to the last report about the issue by Bloomberg.

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