November 5, 2019

Deutsche Telekom and the insurance startup Lemonade are in a colorful dispute

Insurance startup Lemonade is entering a fight with T-Mobile’s parent company over its use of the color magenta.

After the New York-based homeowner and rental insurance startup Lemonade launched in Germany this past summer, T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom sent them a letter.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a “welcome to the neighborhood” postcard. It demanded that the AI-focused company stop using the color magenta in its logo and marketing material — or else.

Why? Because T-Mobile uses magenta. There can’t be another company in a completely different industry using the same red-purple hue — that’d be preposterous.

And DT isn’t stopping on a national level

According to TechCrunch, Deutsche filed for an injunction on Lemonade operating in Germany back when Lemonade arrived, which forced the startup to temporarily switch its color in the country. But it wants to ban Lemonade’s use of magenta globally as well. 

Lemonade saw red: “We thought this seemed like a massive over-reach,” Daniel Schreiber, Lemonade’s co-founder and CEO, said. “Then we started digging… ” 

The company discovered that Deutsche has bullied various-sized companies into losing the magenta for years

Now, Lemonade is rolling up its sleeves

To add even more color to the kerfuffle, Lemonade filed a motion yesterday with the European intellectual property office to loosen Deutsche’s legal vice-grip on the color, and has petitioned to remove DT’s color-rights on magenta in the insurance sector.

The problem is, T-Mobile actually does offer insurance on services like cybersecurity and tech-gadget protection policies, which could add a touch of gray to the magenta dispute.

In the meantime, here are a few other corporate colors that can get you sued (when used in the background of an ad product):

  • UPS brown
  • Target red
  • Tiffany blue
  • Home Depot orange 

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