T-Mobile Sues AT&T Prepaid Carrier Aio Wireless Over Use Of “Famous Magenta Color”


T-Mobile is ready to defend its “famous Magenta color trademark” once again as a new lawsuit is filed against AT&T’s Aio Wireless prepaid carrier. The case is likely to echo T-Mobile’s infamous lawsuit against Engadget over the color, which T-Mobile, for which T-Mobile has a trademark.

According to Law360, T-Mobile filed the lawsuit last Friday in a US District Court in Texas. T-Mobile alleges that AT&T launched Aio after T-Mobile unveiled its Simple Choice plans.

“AT&T’s subsidiary’s use of magenta to attract T-Mobile customers is likely to dilute T-Mobile’s famous magenta color trademark, and to create initial interest [and] confusion as to the source or affiliation of AT&T’s subsidiary’s business,” T-Mobile said in its complaint.

“Aio adopted, is using, and intends to continue to use, magenta in connection with its wireless products and services despite knowledge of T-Mobile’s substantial use of, and upon information and belief despite knowledge of T-Mobile’s exclusive rights in, the magenta mark,” the complaint said.

Aio is an offshoot AT&T prepaid brand currently serving Houston, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Ft Myers and Naples, Florida. An Aio spokeswoman denied T-Mobile’s claims and stated that the color used by the carrier on its branding and website is not the same as T-Mobile’s Magenta shade. In fact, Aio says “T-Mobile needs an art lesson” according to the spokeswoman who spoke to Law360. “Aio doesn’t do Magenta.”

To think, there was once a time T-Mobile and AT&T were set to wed, now they can’t be in the same room with each other. Personally, I think Aio’s color is a noticeably deeper shade, but even I wasn’t crazy enough to use the Magenta color on this site.

Fierce Wireless via Law360

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  • TBN27

    …it’s just a color….and a different shade at that…

    • Jose Hernandez

      The point is, I think, is that T-Mobile is arguing that “some” subscribers might see this color, and maybe think, that because it is “similar” to the Magenta T-Mobile uses, that they are dealing with T-Mobile.

      At&T uses Blue

      Verizon uses Red

      Sprint uses Yellow

      T-Mobile uses Magenta “Pink”

      Knowing At&t, they probably did this just to achieve that goal. Confuse “some” customers and keep them away from T-Mobile.

      • kalel33

        But you can’t blanket the color magenta in all it’s shades and color palettes. CAT has the trademark on a very specific color of yellow, yet every piece of heavy equipment made by other heavy equipment manufacturers are yellow, just not CAT yellow.

        • Jose Hernandez

          I know. I am just saying what I think was the reason behind this. I am not saying it is right, but then again, I can actually see why they would want to do it at the same time.

  • S. Ali

    AIO plans are very competitive to T-mobile. You get greater coverage and wider device selection (all those exclusive ATT devices). Speeds are throttled (4mbit HSPA, 8mbit LTE), but coverage makes up for that big time. Their overage throttle is only 256kbps (unlike T-mobile 65kbps). Their data allotment are more generous too (if you don’t need unlimited). You can also purchase more data for $10/gig. They are a much better choice if you are looking at a single line, and perhaps even 2 lines. AIO is going nationwide soon, T-mobile is scared.

    • landmarkcm

      I wish they would roll out to NV. Im happy with the 60.00 GoPhone plan though. They should just consolodate them . Not sure though now what there going to do while there waiting on the approval for the cricket buy..

  • Dustin Maki

    T-mobile actually does have a patent or something like that with a certain shade of Magenta so…..

  • CPPCrispy

    I think that since both T-Mobile and Aio Wireless sell wireless services, T-Mobile is in the right to file the lawsuit. If, for instance, this was between T-Mobile and a hotel chain or an insurance company, then this would be a dumb lawsuit.

    Bottom line, if you are in the same industry and compete with each other, then you can’t use your competitors colors. I have to agree, Aios magenta is slightly darker but the difference is not that big.

    • Gigaflar3

      By this logic, Burger King, McDonald’s,In-N-Out,Sonic, Herfy’s, and probably a hundred other companies should all sue each other for using Yellow and Red in their advertising/branding.

      • Andrew

        The difference is T-Mo has a copy right on the color in the wireless business.

        Those companies do not have a copyright on those colors in the food industry.

        • whiteiphoneproblems

          This basically has it correct, although it’s trademark rights (not copyright).

        • kalel33

          You can’t trademark(you don’t copyright colors) the shades of one color. Look at John Deere or Caterpillar. They have trademarks on green and yellow but they are very specific shade and color of green and yellow. If you were right then there wouldn’t be a single piece of heavy equipment that was yellow, yet every single piece of heavy equipment is yellow, just not CAT yellow.

      • Dakota

        If you know about Pantone colors and have worked in advertising,or PR, you know these colors aren’t the same. I worked in that field for McDonald’s in regional and national positions and BK colors were never considered the same. But when you’re working with sponsors on logos, the colors of McDonald’s red/gold are very specific shades that have to be matched. Its not the same as BK.. Tmobile would also go after someonewith a T logo tthat looked similarly too. You have to consult a trademark attorney and read exactly what trademark they got approved and own

  • ceegii63

    one of the funniest stories in a while

  • Jay J. Blanco

    Its like World War III with AT&T and T-Mobile. T-Mobile isn’t playing since the new CEO took office.

    • kev

      War T-Mobile isn’t going to win.

  • Spanky

    I see T-Mobile’s learned a few things from Apple, now that it has the iPhone.

  • kev2684

    it is pretty far off the T-Mo color, but i think deutsche telekom trademarked magenta for anything wireless. so they might just win it.

  • thepanttherlady

    Interesting article on Engadget from 2007. I think T-Mobile actually has a chance at winning this IMHO.


  • fsured

    Granted this sounds like a bizarre issue to fight over but when Apple went after Samsung and others for things such as square shapes, they were given the same roll of the eyes and comments like pathetic. The same arguments used that people would confuse Samsung devices for the Iphone/Ipad and Apple would lose customers.

    • Dakota

      Colors are important to brands. If a hamburger chain started using red and gold,McDonald’s would jump on it. If for nothing else, they need to do it for precedent and for standing in future cases to show they’ve defended it. Depends on the patent.. There are very specific and unique Pantone colors. They’d be lucky if theyfou sonsome smoking gun memo.. But with Tmobile still not having the best reputation, I don’t know thats what they’d want to copy. Never read Sprint going after Straight Talk Wireless for using yellow

  • I will say that their coverage map looks like T-Mobile’s… Same colors and all.

  • Ordeith

    As much as I hate to admit that T-Mobile might have a point (and I do, really, hate to admit it).

    But if you take T-Mobile’s color and adjust nothing but value in the HSV color space you get a color that is nearly identical to the one AIO used. It is like viewing the T-Mobile color in a darker room.

    Hex Value of AIO: 960051
    Hex Value of a dimmed T-Mobile: 96004D

    those colors are very close. Looks like someone at T-Mobile noticed.

    • Paul

      Two words, “rounded corners.”

      If it’s closer enough to confuse someone then it’s close enough for the win.

    • anders

      Colors aren’t able to be trademarked you idiot, I can’t believe there are people defending this crap, what a sad state our society has reached.

      • Dakota

        Didn’t the suit say they are defending their trademark. I thought you could in terms of a certain industry. I saw an Aio commercial on TV and was confused because it’s not in my area. I didn’t see any reference to ATT or a coverage map. I didn’t notice a color but did wonder if it was Tmobile. I dont remember the rates exciting exciting me too much, but guess compared to ATT.. But I don’t think it said LTE.. Had a lot of that vague prepaid lingo

        • Jose Hernandez

          I think this is the reason why T-Mobile is suing. The possibility that some customers might experience the same moment of confusion you did.

      • Chris

        They hold a trademark for a certain shade of magenta in the RAL German Color Scheme. The color is called ‘TeleMagenta’ to be exact.

  • Paul


  • landmarkcm

    So silly! Tmo don’t you have more impt things then this to spend your time on. Like improving your outsourced service & being able to port numbers right away. Yes I had a problem with them & am currently happy using my Tmobile L9 on At&t gophone. At least they allow me little things like call forwarding to use youmail app & the coverage really is much better, 99.9 percent same nationwide as the postpaid folks get! No need for roaming. Point is Tmo spend your time money & energy on things that matter not nonsense like this.

    • AndroidProfit

      YES! John Legere is simply making an ass out of himself on Twitter.

      • Dakota


    • josephsinger

      I love how people always have the beef of “why don’t you fix…” instead of spending money defending a trademark. As if not spending the money in litigation it’s going to magically mean your number is ported right away or your dropped calls will be fixed or T-Mobile doesn’t offer enough classy phones. Please, be serious.

      • landmarkcm

        I dont have a problem with there phones I like the openness of GSM & using Tmobile phone on Att network esp & vice versa etc. I just in general think this lawsuit is a bit ridiculous.. Maybey it’s just me . The color is not the same & who knows what goes on behind the scenes if Att was trying to urk Tmo or just a coincidencethat AIO is using a purple magenta shade..or whatever.

  • eanfoso

    Well my gf got t-mobile because she liked the magenta exclusive colors on phones

  • This is another tactic to gain Negative popularity amongst wireless carriers. I appreciate this move by CEO, and it will effect market with positive output of sales to both AIO and T-Mobile effectively.

  • ColoradoGray

    This is one of those situations were a company has to at least make an effort towards looking like it is defending its IP. These might seems silly, but if they don’t it could be used against them if something actually important comes up later.

    • anders

      Colors are in the range of IP now? Where exactly did congress state that people could trademark a fraction of a visual spectrum?

      • Chris

        A trademark has a very specific use detailed when they filed for it.

        I haven’t seen the actual T-mo filing for the magenta color, but my guess is that it details the use in the mobile/wireless space since T-mobile went after Engadget Mobile back then even though Engadget is not in the wireless industry.

        Just like facebook holds the trademark for a very certain use of font, letter combinations and color combinations. That if used by other companies in the range of the trademark, they can be sued.

        It’s the brand that’s trademarked (theoretically).

    • Never thought of it in that light. Interesting perspective

  • steveb944

    I think your profile icon is magenta David, better change it.

    • No no no! I was very clear about staying away from that shade! I didn’t want to give any ground that might be interpreted as using the same color!

  • sorandkairi

    Color me blind but …you can sue over colors now? Lol!

  • Wilma Flintstone

    They’re obviously doing this because the company AIO has affiliations with AT&T. Suing for a color shade seems a bit ridiculous if you ask me and it shouldn’t be possible.

  • Asael Delgado

    Call me Captain Obvious, but I have reason to believe that they are trying to suck out more money from AT&T; so T-Mobile can get some sort of boost to invest in accelerate their network developments. T-Mobile is doing well so far, but anything to catch up to speed with Death Star, and Big Red.

    • philyew

      The financial judgement will follow, but it’s highly unlikely to involve amounts that would make a significant difference in TM’s ability to acquire spectrum or launch a new phase of network modernization.

  • ClausWillSeeYouNow

    It’s their TRADEMARK. They have every right to sue. Go for it T-Mobile. This is unacceptable. AT&T needs to play fair.

    • squiggleslash

      I would normally agree except that I think certain things – colours for one – shouldn’t be trademarkable.

  • A whole bunch of legal mumbo jumbo. Let the sales numbers be the true determiner.

    Similar? Sure but it isn’t an exact replica which makes the lawsuit moot. A tweet from T-Mobile’$ bold CEO would have been a bigger statement and saved T-Mobile time and limited resources.

    See what happens when you receive excess funds You didn’t earn……lol I don’t know exactly why but something shady went down with the whole proposed merger I just can’t put my finger on it but I’m no fool.

    T-mobile profits from a failed relationship? Most people just go there separate ways this wasn’t a pre existing marriage. …. funny