T-Mobile wins case against AT&T's Aio using colour magenta

10 Feb 2014


T-Mobile wins case against AT&T's Aio using colour magentaA federal court in the US has ruled AT&T subsidiary Aio Wireless' use of the colour magenta is an infringement of T-Mobile's magenta trademark.

US-based prepaid wireless service provider Aio Wireless is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AT&T.

"T-Mobile (US Inc) is very pleased that the federal court in Texas has ordered Aio Wireless, a subsidiary of AT&T, to stop infringing T-Mobile's magenta trademark. The court agreed with us that Aio can't continue infringing T-Mobile's magenta mark by using large blocks of what it has called 'plum,' and told Aio to stop using magenta or similar colors in all of its marketing and advertising, including stores, web sites and social media," T-Mobile said in a statement.

It added, "The Court's ruling, coming after extensive argument and a three-day hearing, validates T-Mobile's position that wireless customers identify T-Mobile with magenta and that T-Mobile's use of magenta is protected by trademark law."

Within three months of the launch of AT&T's no-contract, branded, pre-paid wireless service, Aio Wireless in May 2013, T-Mobile filed a trademark infringement suit against the service provider in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

T-Mobile alleged in its complaint that AT&T created AIO Wireless "which - out of all of the colors in the universe - chose magenta to begin promoting no-contract wireless communications services in direct competition with T-Mobile."

The company's use of magenta was not limited to its logo, T-Mobile alleged saying that the company used magenta just about everywhere else as well, including its marketing materials, advertisements, and even the service provider's giant coverage map.

According to commentators, branding was serious business, even if it was just a distinctive colour, as T-Mobile's latest court victory showed.

They point out that company would not have been so concerned about a prepaid wireless provider's use of the colour had Aio Wireless, not been a subsidiary of its long-time rival AT&T.

They point out that the lawsuit over trademark infringement was filed in August last year and although Aio Wireless was named as the defendant, the ultimate target was, of course, AT&T, which, T-Mobile's statement made out in no uncertain terms.

T-Mobile claimed that AT&T willfully used a strikingly similar colour for Aio Wireless in a bid to confuse customers and, luckily for the carrier, the court sided with it.

Only three days into the hearings, the judge from the Southern District of Texas agreed that customers immediately identified the colour, which was described as "plum", with T-Mobile.

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