[FRANKFURT] Santander may lose the right to use its bright red logo in Germany after a ruling by Germany's highest court in a long-running dispute with Germany's savings banks, whose logo has a very similar colour.
The Spanish bank had asked for the colour trademark of Germany's roughly 400 savings banks to be cancelled, but the Federal Court of Justice decided on Thursday to uphold the savings banks' trademark for its colour, called "red HKS 13".
The umbrella organisation of Germany's savings banks said in a statement that it now expected Santander's own colour trademark to be cancelled in separate pending court cases.
If that happens, Santander will likely have to choose a different colour for the logos of its 324 outlets and marketing activities in Germany.
Santander said it would analyse the court decision and examine how it may take action against it.
The bank could launch a constitutional complaint and ask for the case to be heard at the European Court of Justice.
However, it is for Germany's Federal Court of Justice to decide whether to involve Europe's highest court in the case, while its ruling has to be implemented immediately.
"It is possible that the next court battle will be about how many shades different from the savings banks' red a new Santander red will have to be," said Julia Schoenbohm of law firm Linklaters.