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Orange sues easyMobile for being orange

Budget mobile provider accused of passing off

Mobile telephony company Orange is seeing red over the branding strategy being used by mobile operator easyMobile.com. It launched a trademark infringement suit against the UK startup this week to prevent what it sees as misuse of its shade of orange.

Orange began the court action after six months of negotiations failed to persuade easyMobile.com to drop the colour from its advertisements and marketing materials.

Orange claims that easyMobile.com is attempting to "pass itself off" as Orange by using a similar colour.

EasyMobile.com was launched as a low-price, no-frills MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) service in the UK last November by Danish telecom company TDC A/S and T-Mobile UK.

The easyMobile brand is licensed from easyGroup, which has used the colour orange in the branding for all of its divisions since its launch in 1998. It also owns easyJet, easyCar and easyInternetCafe.

EasyMobile.com said it doubts UK consumers are being confused by its branding and that it is ready to do battle with Orange.

In an letter made public this week, Frank Rasmussen, CEO of easyMobile.com, accused Orange of using the issue as a way to short circuit easyMobile's emergence in the UK and other European markets.

"I am not a lawyer, but personally I do not believe this court action has anything to do with the use of the colour orange," Rasmussen wrote in the letter.

"We are going to launch a very strong concept and Orange is facing dramatic changes in the market. Why Orange is choosing to fight in the court is really not clear to me,” he said, adding, “Our war is going to be on the real battlefield: who can offer the British customers the best combination of freedom, low price and high service?"

Representatives from Orange and easyMobile.com declined to comment further on the matter.


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