For the first time in 25 years, Deutsche Telekom has lost its exclusive trademark over shades of the color pink in France, including the magenta shade used in its marketing and branding for its T-Mobile brand.
A December 15 ruling from France’s patent and trademark office, the Institute National de la Properiété Industrielle, has found that the telecom giant can no longer lay claim to be the sole user of the color pink in the financial sector because the company has failed to prove “genuine use of his mark” in the past five years.
The trademark infringement case was brought to the France trademark office’s notice by New York-based insurance provider Lemonade as a preemptive strike against the telecommunications giant as the brand expands into the country. The 5-year-old Lemonade uses a similar shade of T-Mobile’s magenta in its branding and marketing materials—a color it calls “pink” (hex code #FF0083). The brand’s Instagram feed, for instance, features commissioned works of art using the brand’s particular color of pink. Over the past year, the brand has been involved in a lawsuit over the color in Germany, where Deutsche Telekom is headquartered.
In November of 2019, the pink-hued Lemonade was trying to expand its services to Germany when it was told by the German courts that it would have to cease using its color in the country as Deutsche Telekom owned the rights to the color. The ruling only applied in Germany, and so Lemonade made the appropriate changes.
But as Lemonade expands into other European countries like France (it launched in France last week), it’s making sure it can do so with its signature color and continuing its social campaign #FreeThePink, which has gained little traction outside of the company itself. Deutsche Telekom first registered its trademark of its shade of magenta, “RAL 4010,” in France in 1996.