T-Mobile Sues AT&T Over Magenta

For anyone who saw the 1988 film Colors, heard the song of the same name performed by Ice-T, or had the misfortune of living in the Los Angeles area in the mid-eighties to the early-nineties, it would be an understatement to say that wearing the wrong colors in the wrong neighborhood could and often would get you killed. A preferred method for many was to drive a car by and leave the victim with a case of very acute lead poisoning. Thankfully, those days are largely gone, ushered out by most crack users dying or being incarcerated and an improved economy brought about by the Internet in its infancy.

T-Mobile Sues AT&T Over Magenta

T-Mobile lawsuit again AT&T

That’s not to say that wars over colors don’t still exist. T-Mobile USA, Inc. (TMUS) has, for over a decade, used and defended its iconic “magenta” which to most is considerably closer to a hot pink color. T-Mobile has even gone so far as to trademark this color. It’s for this reason that last Friday, T-Mobile filed suit against AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T)’s new subsidiary, Aio Wireless, claiming that Aio, deliberately used T-Mobile’s magenta in an effort to confuse customers. “Out of all of the colors in the universe,” T-Mobile’s complaint reads, “[Aio] chose magenta.”

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Aio was formed to directly compete with T-Mobile. T-Mobile has largely switched to off-contract plans and that is precisely what AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is doing with Aio, offering customers off-contract wireless plans.

“AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) set up Aio to compete directly with T-Mobile,” the complaint reads. It argues that Aio’s use of the color magenta “is likely to dilute T-Mobile USA, Inc. (TMUS)’s famous magenta color trademark, and to create initial interest confusion.”

T-Mobile has been using this particular color of which its very protective of since 2002. Its parent company, Deutsche Telekom AG (FRA:DTE) (PINK:DTEGY) (ETR:DTE), has been employing the same color since the early 1990’s. Colors.

Aio spokesperson on T-Mobile’s Color

“T-Mobile needs an art lesson,” an Aio spokesperson reportedly told Law360. “Aio doesn’t do magenta.”

There is little question that both companies in their coverage maps are using a shade of purple but for T-Mobile USA, Inc. (TMUS) to be successful in its suit it will need to prove that that its own color of magenta was in use, that it was being used in conjunction with a telecommunications product, and that its use could confuse or was intended to deceive consumers. Two out of three might not be bad in a Carly Simon song but it won’t cut in a court of law.

Neither of the companies “fighting over a box of crayons” have commented as of this writing.