Telekom Gets Smartwatch Maker To Change All Its Logos Because Magenta

from the purple-productivity-eaters dept

While trademarks being granted for colors strikes me as a special brand of silly in general, there really must be something about the color purple and its associated shades that sparks protectionism. Purple/magenta has been the subject of trademark bullying from several entities in the past, including CraftsAmericana Group, T-Mobile, and Cadbury. What moves the needle on most of these stories from "trademark-gone-too-far" to "trademark bullying" is that these actions tend to be brought against other groups that aren't even operating within the same industry as the offended. That's key in trademark disputes where, in most cases, the two parties must be competing with one another for infringement to occur.

Well, T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom, appears to be at it again, sending out threat letters to OXY, makers of a soon-to-be-launched smartwatch, all because the startup dared to use the color magenta in its logo. The company explained to the public why it had to change all of its branding on its website.

Let’s start at the beginning. On August 19th 2015, we filed a trademark for our OXY logo (see the image below) with the Intellectual Properties Office of the United Kingdom. Our registration included the colors pink (#E91E63) and blue-grey (#455A64) and we made sure that, within the classes we filed for (class 9 and class 25), there were no other trademarks interfering with our classification.

On November 3rd, 16 days before we expected the trademark to become official, we received a ‘notice of threatened opposition’ concerning our pending trademark. According to the IPO, it was issued by Deutsche Telekom AG. In addition to the official notice, we received a relatively 'urgent' sounding email from Telekom’s lawyer firm, Hogan Lovells International LLP.
OXY states that the notices it received from HLI LLP prohibit it from disclosing the reason for the opposition but that anyone looking into the matter between it and Deutsche Telekom would be able to guess why. That's true, with a brief review of the prior OXY logo and that of Deutsche Telekom.



So, yeah, magenta again. But not really, as OXY registered its mark using a shade of pink, not magenta, and that difference means that holy shit can we all agree that trademarking colors like this is dumb now? OXY goes on to note that Deutsche Telekom has opposed the trademarks of other companies over the color magenta, but that at least most of the time its targets were in some way competing with it.

While it is debatable whether or not this behaviour is fair, the above mentioned entities (except Engadget) were arguably in direct competition with Deutsche Telekom AG. Plus, Deutsche Telekom AG is by far not the only company owning a color-related trademark and they are also not alone in filing corresponding lawsuits. But why did they want us to change our logo? We are making a smartwatch - nothing that would eventually compete with Telekom’s products and services.
That distinction would likely mean that OXY had a good case to defend itself on the merits. Unfortunately, as is the case in too many of these trademark bullying stories, fear and lack of resources made the smarter decision for OXY to simply be to cave and go through the hassle of changing all of its logo and marketing material to remove the offending pink/magenta.
After a few hours, we got very valuable feedback from our external advisors and started to slowly understand what was going on. Since we didn’t have the financial resources to fight Deutsche Telekom AG on this matter, and because we also didn’t want to just ignore them, we basically had two options left: We could either negotiate with Telekom to find a price for using the old logo, or we could change everything.

Last weekend, we had to change all logos and colors of the OXY brand, which included modifying over 25,000 image files and countless other design related properties. Besides substituting the colors in most of our design elements, we had to update all our social media channels, our website and our upcoming Indiegogo page. As you can probably imagine, it took us a while, and we didn’t really enjoy doing it.
All in the name of trademark, built to keep customers from being confused, while instead being used simply to push small new businesses around for no valid reason. Yay.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2015 @ 7:08pm

    They should send an invoice to Douche Telekom for the cost of changing everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Kal Zekdor (profile), 18 Dec 2015 @ 7:23pm

      Re:

      Seriously. Doing some rough calculations, this whole ordeal cost them in the ballpark of $2500. (And that's assuming they have proper design and marketing tooling, I sincerely hope they didn't have to modify each of those images by hand.)

      They don't seem to be a crazy tiny company, but that's still a non-trivial cost they had to bear, because... reasons.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        OldMugwump (profile), 19 Dec 2015 @ 7:11am

        Re: Re:

        I'm sure they spent more than that just talking to their lawyers about it.

        And changing 25,000 image files? Updating every place that used them?

        This cost them at least 10x that amount. Maybe 50x.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      mb, 23 Dec 2015 @ 7:59am

      Re:

      Forget the invoice. This is outright extortion, and should have appropriate criminal charges applied right up to the CEO, and every single memeber of the BoD.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2015 @ 7:43pm

    And again

    Money trumps law. I get the whole capitalism thing but maybe it is a bad idea that the law is based on it too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Dec 2015 @ 8:42pm

    Right or wrong, rich or poor

    Since we didn’t have the financial resources to fight Deutsche Telekom AG on this matter

    A perfect example of a completely broken system. It doesn't matter if you're right, it doesn't matter if you're innocent, if you don't have the money to fight back and/or defend yourself you're screwed.

    Guilt or innocence is near meaningless in today's legal system, all that matters is the size of your bank account.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldMugwump (profile), 19 Dec 2015 @ 7:12am

      Re: Right or wrong, rich or poor

      Loser pays.

      It's an easy fix.

      The only people who oppose it are those who win by intimidation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 19 Dec 2015 @ 10:11am

        Re: Re: Right or wrong, rich or poor

        Come now, a change like that would put a great many lawyers clean out of business! If filing a lawsuit actually entailed risk to the one filing it, people and companies might hesitate, or even worse, not file a lawsuit at all.

        Such a change is clearly anti-lawyer, and therefor completely unacceptable.

        /s

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 22 Dec 2015 @ 5:28am

        Re: Re: Right or wrong, rich or poor

        "It's an easy fix."

        Not really. It's possibly a start but there's still nothing to stop, say, a company from using stalling tactics to create market uncertainty to undermine competition. Defending litigation can be extremely costly even if you eventually have the lawyer's bills paid for you.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2015 @ 8:48pm

    It's an ugly logo and an ugly color combination anyway, Deutsche Telekom is doing them a favor.

    But yeah, Deutsche Telekom is being a bully.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    W. Vann Hall (profile), 18 Dec 2015 @ 8:50pm

    So, how long before...

    ...they get sued by Purdue Pharma?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2015 @ 3:34am

    Let's all agree...

    ...to add Deutsche Telekom in general and T-Mobile in particular to the list of companies with whom we refuse to do business and that we disparage to everyone we meet. Every dollar they don't make is a dollar they can't spend bullying smaller companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    OXY, 19 Dec 2015 @ 3:46am

    "OXY states that the notices it received from HLI LLP prohibit it from disclosing the reason for the opposition"

    Can someone explain how this is possible?

    If I get a letter from someone I can tell who the frig I want to what is in the letter.
    This notice was sent by some form of Law enforcement agency?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Balls, 19 Dec 2015 @ 3:50am

    Let's all agree...
    ...to add Deutsche Telekom in general and T-Mobile in particular to the list of companies with whom we refuse to do business and that we disparage to everyone we meet. Every dollar they don't make is a dollar they can't spend bullying smaller companies.

    I wish genuinely more people would actually do this sort of thing for real, I would love to see total boycotts of companies on a grand scale, alas it will never happen because everyone wants their shiny things . . .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 19 Dec 2015 @ 11:54am

      Re:

      @ balls-
      not only that, but where you gonna go ? ? ?
      The They (tm) have you by the short and curlies...

      arguendo:
      A. you need a cellular telephonic computing machine technology thingy,
      B. you have X number of carriers available in your area,
      C. HOW many is that ?
      D. what do you do when you go through all X of them, and find they are ALL EEE-vil, and ALL suck at customer service, etc ? ? ?
      E. see, A.

      (oh, and for extra credit, you can plug this formula into nearly ANY major 'commodity' service -phone, banking, media, health insurance, utilities, etc- and get the same result... seeing a pattern ? ? ? i know the conclusions -while inescapable- are like kryptonite to proper propaganda viktims raised on a steady diet of kapitalist imperialism... yeah, i'm looking *directly* at you, mr. whatever...)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2015 @ 6:46am

    is it just me or does the techdirt logo look similar to tmobiles, T ....'s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MarcAnthony (profile), 19 Dec 2015 @ 8:32am

    Evil triumphs, when good men (and even companies) do nothing

    A mere opposition notice prohibits disclosure? I thought a court had to issue a gag order or injunction. At any rate, this is silly; the two tints are discernibly different.

    OXY really should have challenged D.T. in a legal battle. They could probably have requested summary judgment against the trademark on the grounds that magenta doesn't even exist; it's a creation of the mind. http://boingboing.net/2009/02/16/magenta-isnt-a-real.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2015 @ 9:17pm

    Uh oh..

    I've noticed that some of the gravatars here use magenta. I wonder if Deutsche Telekom AG will be suing Techdirt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2015 @ 5:46am

    We had an accounting lady once....

    That randomly changed her background color of her desktop to Magenta.

    I was worried, because she was always strictly blue background, nothing bright or crazy.

    I was right to be worried, because this large of a behavior change was the canary to the brain aneurysm she ended up having a couple of months later.

    Both sides should get checked with their doctor immediately.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2015 @ 10:05am

    We are moving all of our operations to the Chinese mainland. We make it there we sell it there. So piss off you mentally masturbating retards, these aren't the droids you are looking for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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