AT&T's Aio: T-Mobile's magenta patent infringement ruling won't impact advertising plans

A federal court ruled that Aio Wireless' use of the color magenta in its marketing and branding efforts infringes upon T-Mobile US' (NYSE:TMUS) patent on the color. However, Aio said the court's decision won't impact the company because it isn't using that color anymore in its marketing.

"While we disagree with the court's decision, it addresses advertising and store designs that we are no longer implementing. Accordingly, this decision has no effect on our advertising plans," an Aio spokeswoman told FierceWireless. Aio is AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) prepaid brand.

The federal court ruling came after a three-day hearing on the validity of T-Mobile's claim that its use of magenta is protected by trademark law, according to T-Mobile. The court issued a temporary injunction barring Aio from using magenta in its advertising, marketing, stores, websites and social media efforts.

T-Mobile filed the lawsuit against Aio Wireless in U.S. District Court in Texas back in August and accused the brand of stealing T-Mobile's magenta color in an effort to confuse and steal T-Mobile customers. T-Mobile also alleged that AT&T launched Aio after T-Mobile unveiled its new no-contract "Simple Choice" plans. T-Mobile did announce its Simple Choice plans in late March and AT&T unveiled Aio in early May, but it's unclear how long Aio was in development.

When the lawsuit was filed, an Aio spokeswoman said that the company's color was not magenta but a deeper shade of purple than T-Mobile's magenta.

Interestingly, this battle over the use of magenta comes just as AT&T is expected to close on its acquisition of Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP), which will mean the end of the Aio Wireless. AT&T has said the Leap deal will close by the end of the first quarter and AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson has said that once the deal closes AT&T will keep Leap's no-contract Cricket brand and discontinue the Aio brand.

For more:
- see this T-Mobile release
- see this Re/code article
- see this Verge article

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