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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 22:02 GMT 23:02 UK
EasyMobile faces Orange showdown
Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Stelios says he is willing to defend his right to use the colour orange
Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou is facing a potential showdown with telecoms giant Orange over his plans to launch a low-cost mobile phone service.

Mr Haji-Ioannou said the French-owned mobiles group had threatened to stop him using the colour orange in the branding of his new firm, EasyMobile.

He plans to launch mobile services in the UK later this year.

A spokeswoman for Orange said the new mobiles service would "cause confusion" for its customers.

Danish deal

Since the launch of no-frills airline EasyJet, orange has been used in all of EasyGroup's branding, from car hire services to internet cafes.

Mr Haji-Ioannou said he was prepared to go to court to defend his company's use of the colour orange.

"I'm quite happy to see them in court," he told the BBC. "I don't believe they have a case."

On Tuesday, the boss of EasyGroup announced he had reached agreement with Danish telecoms group TDC, which would see the launch of EasyMobile by December.

If successful, the service could be launched in 11 other European countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Customer interests

A spokeswoman for Orange, which is owned by France Telecom, refused to say if the company was planning to take action against Mr Haji-Ioannou's firm.

But she said the launch of mobile services under the Easy brand across Europe would "cause confusion to customers".

"We will do whatever is necessary to protect our customers' best interests," she told BBC News Online.

Under the deal reached with TDC, the Danish company will handle customer billing and network operations for EasyMobile.

EasyMobile plans to cut the cost of gaining new customers by using the internet rather than High Street shops, and plans to sell no phones.

The only products it intends to sell are SIM cards, the removable memory chips that fit into the back of mobile phones and contain user identity codes and relevant personal data.

"Selling just sim cards from a website with cheap pre-paid airtime, is the most efficient way to use mobile telephony," Mr Haji-Ioannou said.

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