A New York hospital is suing another because it used a 'confusingly similar' shade of purple

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A New York hospital is suing another because it used a 'confusingly similar' shade of purple
An example of "confusingly similar advertising" between NYU and Northwell, according to a lawsuit filed by NYU in New York Thursday.NYU LANGONE HEALTH SYSTEM and NYU LANGONE HOSPITALS v. NORTHWELL HEALTH, INC.
  • NYU Langone is suing Northwell Health, alleging it created "confusingly similar advertisements."
  • NYU Langone alleges Northwell copied its signature purple advertising in recent years.
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NYU Langone filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that neighboring New York hospital system and known competitor, Northwell Health, copied its signature purple-colored advertisements to create "confusingly similar advertisements" in the New York area.

The suit, filed in New York's Southern District Court, alleged that Northwell created "actual confusion and a likelihood of confusion as to Northwell's association or affiliation with, or sponsorship or endorsement by, NYU Langone" by enlisting "the predominant use of the same or a very similar color purple," as well a similar accent colors, font types and styles, and layouts and formats of the ads.

"This case is about deceptive business practices," lawyers for NYU Langone wrote in the lawsuit.

NYU Langone alleges that Northwell "has engaged, and continues to engage, in an apparent scheme to trade off the good will and reputation of NYU Langone."

NYU Langone alleges in the suit that Northwell copied its branding because it was named the top hospital in New York and third best hospital in the United States this year by the US News & World Report's 2022-2023 "Best Hospitals Honor Roll" — something "Northwell has not achieved," the suit said.

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"This is a clear violation of NYU Langone's branding and marketing, which even a casual observer would see as an attempt to copy our campaign," Steve Ritea, the senior director of media relations at NYU Langone said in a statement shared with Insider.

"Northwell is intentionally trying to confuse the public and trade on NYU Langone's quality and safety reputation. It's a shameless effort reflecting poorly on their imagination and industry," Ritea added.

In a response to the suit, Northwell Health called NYU's claims "preposterous."

"NYU Langone's claim that it owns the color purple for health care services is nothing short of preposterous. And it's an insult that part of the complaint includes a hospital's week-long COVID-19 memorial for health care workers," Ramon Soto, SVP and chief marketing and communications officer for Northwell, said in a statement to Insider.

"Northwell Health is proud of its distinct branding, which uses a wide variety of colors, and how it leverages research, education and clinical excellence to differentiate from others in the market. Northwell is much more than just a color in our ads," the statement continued.

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NYU Langone is seeking damages and injunctive relief "for unfair competition, trade dress infringement, false advertising, and deceptive trade practices based on Northwell's pattern and practice of copying NYU Langone's distinctive advertising and marketing campaigns, across various media, including, but not limited to, outdoor, digital, print, billboards, social, as well as email and fundraising communications," according to the suit.

It also asks to permanently bar Northwell from using the color purple to create "confusingly similar advertising."

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