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If you ask people in North America which language learning company they associate with the color yellow, they will most likely answer with Rosetta Stone. The yellow boxes the software was sold in for decades in shops and kiosks left their mark on the (potential) language learners’ mind.
If you ask me or any other German, the answer will be different. For us, yellow means Langenscheidt when it comes to language learning. The dictionaries of the German publishing house were essential for all learners in school, university and ended up on our bookshelves to collect dust later on.
When Rosetta Stone entered the German market in 2010, Langenscheidt had just managed to obtain a German color mark registration for “printed bilingual dictionaries”, which the publisher immediately used to sue Rosetta Stone for trademark infringement.
Rosetta Stone now lost in a last appeal at the German Federal Supreme Court meaning that the company has to find another color to use for its products, promotional material and website in Germany. The decision by judge Wolfgang Büscher was based on a similar judgement in the favor of German bank Sparkasse which ruled that the Spanish bank Santander could not use the color red for promotion in Germany.
Founded in 1865 Langenscheidt is one of the pioneers in the self-learner segment, but the company just recently introduced a digital language learning software called Langenscheidt IQ.
For Rosetta Stone the ruling means that the company needs to change its color for the German market or make stronger use of other brands in its portfolio. Last year Rosetta Stone acquired Tell Me More, one of the leading European language learning companies that also has a strong footprint in Germany. Livemocha, another language learning startup Rosetta Stone acquired in recent years, also tried to distribute its products to bookstores and might be an option as the brand uses a brown color pattern.