Startup insurance provider Lemonade is trying to make the best of a sour situation after T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom claimed it owns the exclusive rights to the colour magenta.
New York-based Lemonade is a three-year-old company that lives completely online and mostly focuses on homeowners and renter's insurance. The company uses a similar colour to magenta -- it says it's "pink" -- in its marketing materials and its website.
But Lemonade was told by German courts that it must cease using its colour after launching its services in that country, which is also home to T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom. Although the ruling only applies in Germany, Lemonade says it fears the decision will set a precedent and expand to other jurisdictions such as the US or other countries in Europe.
Daniel Schreiber, CEO and co-founder of Lemonade, said in a statement said that if some brainiac at Deutsche Telekom had invented the colour, its possessiveness would make sense. Without that the company's actions just smack of corporate bully tactics, where legions of lawyers attempt to hog natural resources -- in this case a primary colour -- that rightfully belongs to everyone".
A spokesman for Deutsche Telekom confirmed that it "asked the insurance company Lemonade to stop using magenta in the German market", while adding that it also owns the letter "T" in "Deutsche Telekom" registered to the brand.
"Deutsche Telekom respects everyone's trademark rights but expects others to do the same", the spokesman told Ad Age.
The report says Lemonade has complied with the ruling by removing its pink colour from marketing materials in Germany. It's also trying to open up a larger discussion on the legal matter by using the hashtag "#FreeThePink," although it's gained little traction thus far.
Lemonade also filed a motion today with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, or EUIPO, to invalidate Deutsche Telekom's magenta trademark, and they released a colour chart with which it asserts are the hues at issue.