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Orange market saturated?

3 September 2004

 A divided orange tastes just as good, says the old Chinese proverb. But mobile phone operator Orange and EasyGroup disagree as they prepare to fight over the rights to the colour orange - specifically, Pantones 021 and 151 - for their mobile phone brands.

According to the Guardian,  the Easy brand – famous for the tangerine-hued EasyJet, EasyRentacar and EasyInternetcafe brands – is planning to launch Easymobile, a low-cost mobile phone service, within the next few months. But established operator Orange, with its famous bright apricot-coloured livery, claims that EasyMobile’s use of the colour will cause confusion within a marketplace that is already cutthroat.

This is not the first time that major organisations have acted to protect their company colours. The BBC reports that BP took action against an Irish petrol company revamping its forecourts in a shade of green similar to its own, while Deutsche Telekom has been defending its magenta hues in Europe. As covered in depth on this website, trademarks allow a company to register the use of particular colours, sounds and shapes if they offer a distict element of their branding. This protection means that immediate competitors must stear clear of using similar elements, thus ensuring a degree of ‘uniqueness’ to the company’s product or image within its own market area.

EasyGroup, however, may find their case is weakened by their failure to trademark their use of the colour orange. The firm’s founder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, said the failure to register the Easy brand's use of Pantone 021 "may be an oversight" by his legal team.

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