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April 08, 2008

Engadget.com vs. Telekom: What’s in it for us?

Posted in: Brands, News

Endgadget.com vs. Telekom: What’s in it for us?

An interesting battle is going on between a popular technology blog and a major telecommunications company as I am writing this post. In the spotlight: a questionable letter, a vast outcry in the blogosphere and the overall question if a company has the right to protect a color. This color: Magenta

Before we take a look at the relevance of these happenings for us designers, let me sum up the events so far.

Round I

Engadget.com vs. Telekom: What’s in it for us?Deutsche Telekom AG (with the subsidiaries T-Mobile and T-Online, among others) asks Weblogs, Inc. (an AOL Time Warner company, runs around 90 blogs, including engadget.com and engadgetmobile.com) to kindly

…replace the color magenta in the Engadget Mobile logo and discontinue using the color in a trademark-specific way…

That was earlier last week.

Round II

Engadget’s reaction to the letter is to publish it in its beautiful completeness on their blog. Here it is:

Page 1: T-Mobile vs. Endgadget: nasty letter, page 1 and Page 2: Endgadget.com vs. Telekom: What’s in it for us?

Engadget’s post reads “So last week Deutsche Telekom […] sent Engadget a late birthday present: a hand-delivered letter direct from their German legal department…”

Further on, they take their kid gloves out and write that the letter in focus contains a “typo” in the first word of the first sentence: “we” doesn’t have an initial capital W. Besides the fact that Engadget’s post itself would probably get an F for bad grammar (just read the above quote), it may be worth noticing that in the German language, the custom to start a letter with a capital after the salutation doesn’t exist. Come on guys, relax!

Update: Engadget modified their post now; the respective paragraph has been removed.

Also, Engadget goes out of its way to present a stunningly impartial factsheet:Endgadget.com vs. Telekom: What’s in it for us?

Round III

The post on Engadget becomes heavily commented on. I counted about 500 reactions. I haven’t read them all, but expectedly - judging from the ones I did read - the overall tenor is pro Engadget, contra Deutsche Telekom.

Comments range from “Microsoft-level of stupidity” over the suggestion to rename Engadget Mobile to E-Mobile in order to “reduce further confusion”; up to a guy asking Engadget “to cease using [both the colors magenta and blue] to not confuse our drycleaning customers into trying to use your services when they are trying to use ours”.

Round IV

Engadget engadgets Deutsche Telekom with a call to action. They approach fellow bloggers, asking them for support, and publish the post Painting the town magenta, announcing that they put up a new, all-magenta wallpaper on all the Engadget sites and approximated their logo to the T-Mobile logo. Quite a few fellow bloggers are all for it and paint their blogs magenta for the day. The story even makes it to national news.

All of the above has taken place during the past week. I think the happenings are very interesting for us, and I will tell you why.

It’s a fascinating story, worth a closer look:

For us in the creative business, this is a great opportunity to learn something from the current events.

  1. Design - the skill of connecting a very basic element of design to a brand;
  2. Marketing - ways to attach an image to a trademark and make a brand valuable;
  3. Trademarks - their importance, legal grounds and relevance in today’s business world;
  4. Public Relations - the art of making a conflict work for you beyond its original cause and core.

I’d say that the case Deutsche Telekom vs. Engadget bears a great opportunity to shed some light on these subjects - what do you think?
The Magenta Lessons on Nubloo.com

Introducing the Magenta Lessons on Nubloo.com

Engadget called for support from bloggers - is this request valid? Are their followers doing the right thing, or merely jumping on the (traffic) train without thinking it through? And what move can we expect next from Deutsche Telekom - a global combine that has already driven companies out of business and forced such brands as Intel to re-design their products - all over alleged similarities with their trademarks?

Here’s our contribution:

What you can expect

  • We will not blindly participate in Engadget’s call for support.
  • We won’t ill-fame either one of the involved parties unless they really deserve it.
  • We won’t take sides unless we absolutely see a necessity to do so. Once that is given, we won’t make a secret of it.
  • We will use the events of this case to provide relevant and valuable insights on design, marketing, trademarks, and PR.
  • We will pinpoint key elements about every one of these subjects.
  • We will keep track of this case and keep you up to date about what happens next.
  • We will ask you to join the discussion.

With the Magenta Lessons, we aim to provide practical insights and know-how for us in the creative business - based on the live action going on right now.

I will post the four parts of the Magenta Lessons one by one. Be sure to stick around when we’re starting off with the first part, Design. It’s the first in line - you can read it here on Nubloo.com in a few days. You can use our RSS Feed to subscribe to the Magenta Lessons. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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