Absolutely Ridiculous

Posted by Scott

t-mobile_copyright_magenta So I just learned today that my ex-wireless provider, the German T-Mobile, is attempting to own magenta. Yes, they want to own a color. Here’s a discussion on Engadget that does a bit to downplay the whole thing and a site dedicated to reclaiming magenta. Let’s just hope they don’t change their logo to a rainbow, we’ll have to start designing in grayscale again.

15 Comments Leave A Comment


Wallace Henning says:

March 21, 2008 at 10:53 am

HAHAHA This is nuts!!

I say when we get stuff printed in magenta we should add 0000000.1% Cyan in then if they try anything just claim its not magenta!!!

© The colour C 0000000.1% / M 100% / Y 0% / K 0% is owned by Wallace Henning, any use of it will result in legal action!



mike says:

March 21, 2008 at 11:44 am

The audacity of trying to claim that you own a color completely boggles my mind. They must think they walk on water or something. I think I’ll go design something in magenta today..


David says:

March 21, 2008 at 12:15 pm

I’ve heard about this already and it’s so sad. I didn’t know (neither imagine) until then that you can actually own a color. But it seems to be true in the EU! There a very strange things happening with Copyright in the European Union at the moment (and not only concerning colors).

It has rosen attention in the netherlands now because Telekom is claiming to be the owner of the color in the whole EU. But in Germany (where I come from, I’m so sorry) they have been sueing for some time already.

They sue everything, including companies and people that are miles away from the communication sector. They sued publishers for using Magenta in their books (yes, really!) giving as reason that they themselves publish the phone book so only they have the right to use the color in printing.

In other cases they say that the company in question sells something over the internet or has a web site, and – in Telekom words – everything that has to with Internet is therefore neccessarily going over there services (with is obviously not true) and so they forbid the use of the color.

Sadly enough, most people give in, when sued by them. As far as I know, there has not been one single lawsuit that actually prohibited the use of the color, at least in such ridiculous cases as the ones aboce. But I know from people that had a lawsuit with them (a three man publisher start up, what a threat for a multi-billion dollar world wide operating communication provider!). Big T lost every lawsuit and appealed against the judgement every time again up until the highest instance. Then, when it is obvious that they will lose again, they withdraw the action one day before the judgement. This way they prevent the case from becoming a test case, and as there wasn’t any judgement the defendant has to bear all his expenses himself even though he was clearly to win – leaving many of them financially ruined afterwards.

I can see why they claim some protection of their individual company image. But this particular behaviour is just silly. The best way of being indivudual is through creativity, and not through a lawsuit.

Sometimes I really think the world is going crazy …


David says:

March 21, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Telekom indeed “owns” both the color magenta and the color combo magenta-grey in the EU. You can check the trademark online here:

It’s trademark #s are 000212753 and 001353358. But ironically they say “Cancellation pending” and “Application withdrawn”. Though, T probably “owns” magenta nationally in the Netherlands, too.

Oh, and in case you want to design something in blue and silver: That one is owned by Red Bull … just that you know ;)


Justin Meyers says:

March 24, 2008 at 8:27 am

I am pretty sure this is just within their industry. Sweet n’ Low, Splenda, Pepsi trademarked their colors, doesn’t mean you can’t use them, just not in branding within the same industry.

I could be wrong, but this is just my understanding of the matter.


Ryan says:

March 24, 2008 at 10:40 am

Leave it to an arrogant money-centered corporation to consider it a reasonable argument– with loophole savvy lawyers all to happy to spur them on– that they should have legal rights to something as universal as color.
I wouldn’t be suprised if somehow this were granted, no doubt under the guise that anyone else’s use of magenta would infringe on T-Mobiles “right to profit”.


Scott says:

March 24, 2008 at 12:53 pm

the problem is their definition of “telecom industry” is so broad that they’ve been going after people who have nothing to do with it. For instance, they think any internet company falls within telecom, so that right there opens the field to pretty much anything.


Justin Meyers says:

March 25, 2008 at 1:44 pm


That scares the bejesus out of me. Could they really win that case? From what I’ve heard, others have failed.

Anyway, thanks for the insight.


3pepe3 says:

November 24, 2008 at 2:36 pm

I’m a web developer (Mexican) working in France with the site #1 of e-commerce of luxury food products.
A few months ago we receive a package full of non-sense papers claiming that we where breaking the law with some of the displayed products because the item included the vichy pattern(tiled grid backround of RED and WHITE) where a registered trademark of bonne maman confitures
30 small business payed where send to court and we taked out all the products with similar design.
This was a traditional tissue used in france since 200 years… now it’s privated and nobody can use the tiled red and white background (and when they talk about red they talk from all the possible reds).