Out Of The Blue, Instacolor Forced To Change Name By The “True” Color

Something of a black comedy involving white hot startup Color and still-green-behind-the-ears Instacolor. Red in the face, the developer behind the latter app, which combines the key functions of Instagram and Color, was forced to change its name to Instalook after the Color folks developed a gray mood about the Instacolor name.

Color’s lawyers earlier this week sent a cease & desist to the developer of Instacolor Instalook, asking him to change the name of the iPhone app pronto.

In the letter, Color’s legal counsel writes:

As you are aware, Color labs is the creator and owner of the Color application, a GPS enabled photo-sharing application that can be downloaded from iTunes among other places. Color Labs has expended significant time and resources developing consumer recognition and goodwill in the COLOR trademark and product. It is also the owner of U.S. Trademark Application No. 85/222, 392, a copy of which is enclosed.

While our client appreciates your enthusiasm for its product, we hope you can understand that the unlicensed wholesale appropriation of its trademark, and presumably its software, is a, violation of its trademark and copyright rights as well as violation of the terms of use to which you agreed when you downloaded the Color application.

This sort of unauthorized use falsely suggests that Color Labs sponsors or endorses your software and that it is affiliated in some way. Given that Color Labs has no control over the quality of your product, we’re sure you can appreciate the significant concerns that this raises.

Later in the letter, Color says it is prepared to turn to the courts if the developer, Rakshith Krishnappa, fails to “immediately discontinue all unauthorized use of Color labs’ trademark”.

What irked Color is not only Krishnappa using ‘color’ in the app’s name and charging for it, I gather.

Asked for comment, a Color representative responded:

“Due to the use of Color’s name combined with the mimicking of our app and logo, we were concerned with potential consumer confusion.”

From the sidelines, I can see why Color sent the cease & desist letter, but I also feel bad for Krishnappa, who developed the app as a weekend project and isn’t backed by $41 million in capital. For what it’s worth, Krishnappa understands that he had to change the name – which he did immediately – but categorically denies mimicking the look and feel of Color’s iPhone application.

He also explains that he charges for the app only because Instagram has a 5,000 / hour API limit in place, and that he wanted to make sure everyone using the service would have a good experience.

Ever since Color launched its photo sharing app, the $41 million startup has been having a rough time. Co-founder Peter Pham left, or was fired, according to CEO Bill Nguyen, who also told the New York Times that the company is going back to the drawing board.

Their biggest challenge right now: nobody seems to be using the app.

Yesterday, we reported that Google offered $200 million to acquire Color before it even launched.

The startup turned it down.