The UK mobile phone giant, Orange, says its competitors should not be allowed to use the color orange in its advertisements. Next thing you know, they'll claim to own the fruit as well.

Mike Elgan, Contributor

February 19, 2005

1 Min Read

This sounds like something you might find in The Onion, but according to The New York Times, the British mobile phone company Orange is claiming ownership of its namesake color.

The paper reported that Orange plans to sue wireless startup easyMobile for using the color orange in its advertisements.

The Times quoted a statement by the company that said, "We have been unable to secure a commitment from [easyMobile] not to infringe our rights regarding the use of the color orange."

Next thing you know, they'll say they own the fruit, too.

The move is part of a larger and highly disturbing trend whereby companies come along and claim ownership of and rights to things that they didn't invent that are part of the natural world or have spontaneously emerged from human culture.

The American firm Blue Frog Mobile filed a lawsuit recently against the French media conglomerate Lagardere Active over the use in advertising of what it says are two phrases Blue Frog owns: "Get some bling in your ring" and "the hook-up." The first one is a phrase, which is understandable. But "the hook-up" is just standard hip-hop slang neither company invented, but nevertheless both want to own and exclude others from using.

Judges everywhere should spank companies that try to pull this kind of opportunistic culture grabbing and remember that colors and street slang aren't the property of corporations.

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