We’ve been following news reports today regarding the decision of Germany patents and brands office (the German acronym is DPMA) to delete the term "Gelbe Seiten," the German phrase for "Yellow Pages," from its register of brand names that are protected from infringement. In essence, the agency is saying that the term Yellow Pages is a descriptive term rather than a legitimate brand.
The story isn’t finished. The DPMA decision is not effective until four weeks have passed without a challenge, and Deutsche Telecom, which owns the term (for now at least), through its directory division, DeTeMedien, will not let that happen.
The decision was brought on by an ongoing battle between Deutsche Telecom and GoYellow.de (owned by Varetis) over the legality of the GoYellow brand. GoYellow fought back by challenging whether Yellow Pages is a brand or just a description. GoYellow seems to have won this round, but Deutsche Telecom is sure to present a vigorous challenge. The term Gelbe Seiten is one of Deutsche Telecom’s true remaining competitive advantages in Germany. We also believe a successful removal of brand protection in Germany would have repercussions throughout Europe.