Just months after expanding into Germany, the InsurTech Lemonade is in a tussle there over rights to use the color pink.
Lemonade, which sells home and renters insurance electronically and relies on the color pink in its brand identity, said it is trying to invalidate Deutsche Telekom’s claim to exclusive rights over the color in Germany. Deutsche Telekom, the parent of T-Mobile, won a temporary injunction in Germany against Lemonade, and Lemonade in turn said it has temporarily made color changes the court ordered. But Lemonade said it will not sign Deutsche Telekom’s agreement to stop using pink, “choosing instead to challenge its hegemony over pink in all jurisdictions.”
The company has filed a motion with the European Union Intellectual Property Office and petitioned the German Trademark Office in its strike back against Deutsche Telekom’s alleged color hegemony.
“We’re not sure how this will end, but we’ll try to have some fun along the way,” Lemonade CEO and co-founder Daniel Schreiber said in prepared remarks. “Think about it, your printer has but three colors: cyan, yellow and magenta. The idea that Deutsche Telekom owns magenta in all its variations, across industries and countries, seems like a proposition worth challenging.”
Schreiber pointed out that Deutsche Telekom is connected in Germany to a shade of pink it calls “magenta.” However, he said, Deutsche Telekom sued other companies in multiple industries for using “a wide range of pinks.” Those suits have had mixed success, Lemonade said.
To pursue its case, Lemonade filed a motion with the European Union Intellectual Property Office to invalidate Deutsche Telekom’s “magenta” trademark and petitioned the German Trademark Office to revoke the company’s claim to the color “magenta” in the insurance sector.
Lemonade uses the color pink in some variations of its logo and on its website, and noted the color has been part of its identity since the company launched in 2015. As well, Lemonade pointed out its Instagram campaign also heavily depends on pink, an initiative where hundreds of everyday objects are dunked into pink paint.
According to the New York-based startup, Deutsche Telekom struck soon after Lemonade’s June 2019 launch in Germany, stating “that its dominion over the color pink extended to insurance, and demanded Lemonade abandon its use of pink entirely.”
Lemonade said that Deutsche Telekom obtained a preliminary injunction requiring Lemonade to remove the color from any of its materials in Germany. This happened, Lemonade said, before it was able to appear in court to make its case.
Lemonade added that it will post updates on social media, using the hashtag #FreeThePink.
Lemonade’s initial launch in Germany stemmed through a partnership with AXA Germany via a multiyear reinsurance agreement to share insurance-related risk. Initial products include contents and liability insurance. The company said at the time that it found Germany ideal for its first international launch because the market includes traditional insurers and also forward-thinking, digital-savvy customers.
At the time, Christian Wiens, the co-founder and CEO of Germany rival Getsafe, said that Lemonade would struggle to gain traction in Germany due to tech-savvy competitors.
Lemonade has raised about $480 million in venture financing so far, money designed in part to fuel expansion in Europe and the United States.