Color War?: T-Mobile Beats AT&T

By Kimberly Koerth Comments
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AT&T subsidiary Aio Wireless must abandon part of its color scheme because the shade of plum it uses is too similar to T-Mobile's magenta, a federal court ruled.

"T-Mobile has shown a likelihood that potential customers will be confused into thinking that Aio is affiliated or associated with T-Mobile based on the confused association between Aio’s use of its plum color and T-Mobile’s similar use of its similar magenta color," Federal District Court Judge Lee Rosenthal is quoted in The Verge as saying in the decision.

Aio Wireless is a low-cost, no-contract carrier owned and operated by AT&T. It launched last year with T-Mobile immediately filing a lawsuit saying the plum color scheme confused customers into thinking Aio was associated with T-Mobile. The two also offer similar services.

Additionally, T-Mobile said AT&T set up Aio to compete directly with it. The court agreed, saying it was "clear that Aio wanted to capture T-Mobile customers." Documents revealed during the case show that AT&T was aware of the similarities between the two color schemes, as well as potential customers' confusion over the resemblance.

The two colors, however, are not identical. Aio's color is more plum than T-Mobile's magenta, but the court said the color, as well as the services offered by Aio, were similar enough to cause confusion.

The preliminary injunction is limited to the specific shade of plum Pantone 676C. The ruling prohibits Aio from using the plum color in advertising, store design or marketing. A final ruling will come later along with rulings on other issues such as monetary damages.

Other than the financial award, it will all be moot soon. AT&T has said it will drop integrate the Aio brand into Cricket Communications once the phone giant's acquisition of Cricket parent Leap Wireless is complete.

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