Plum wrong! NYU Langone wages war against Northwell Health for ‘ripping off’ its signature purple color

New York University’s hospital is seeing red over its signature purple hue.

Northwell Health hospitals allegedly ripped off NYU Langone’s color scheme in ads — and even made one of its buildings violet — to cash in on the smaller medical center’s stellar reputation, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday.

NYU Langone says Northwell coated one of its sprawling Long Island complexes in purple and intentionally copied its “unique” color and font on everything from digital ads to billboards, according to the suit, which alleges “deceptive trade practices.”

“Northwell has bathed its Peconic Bay Medical Center in the same or nearly same purple color that is prominently featured in NYU Langone’s distinctive advertising as well as in the community” to “capitalize” on the university’s hospital network’s brand, according to the lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court.

Northwell’s “confusingly similar advertising” is a “scheme to trade off the good will and reputation of NYU Langone,” which was ranked the state’s No. 1 best hospital US News & World Report last year and has received “numerous awards,” the lawsuit states.

“By hitching its brand to NYU Langone, Northwell has created a likelihood of confusion as to the affiliation,” the court papers state.

Northwell made one of its Long Island buildings purple, allegedly confusing customers.
Peconic Bay Medical Center – Northwell Health

The Peconic Bay Medical Center wasn’t previously purple.
Edmund J Coppa

Northwell’s use of the violet shade is shady because it has been part of NYU Langone’s brand for more than 100 years — while many of its competitor’s ads began popping up purple in 2021, the court papers state.

The firm allegedly mimicked NYU Langone’s white font and “accent colors” in digital ads for women’s health programs, imaging and weight loss surgeries, according to the suit, which provides visual examples.

In one purple and teal ad similar to NYU’s look, Northwell calls itself, “the best hospital on Long Island” while another comparable ad with orange accent promotes “women and wellness.”

NYU Langone claims the competing hospital network used its same “accent” colors.

NYU Langone claims Northwell’s ads are too much like theirs.

Over the past five years, NYU Langone has poured $125 million into ads, including ones that appeared on buses, taxis and in newspapers, according to court papers.

But when it sent Northwell — the state’s largest healthcare network — a cease and desist letter in May demanding the company change its too-similar ads, the firm allegedly continued to promote itself in purple on Facebook and Instagram, according to the suit.

NYU Langone even points out in the complaint that its obtained trademarks for designs that include its signature purple color — including on its health app.

The lawsuit ultimately accuses Northwell of “unfair competition, trade dress infringement, false advertising, and deceptive trade practices” and seeks unspecified monetary damages.

It claims Northwell has a “pattern” of copying NYU Langone’s ads in “outdoor, digital, print, billboards, social, as well as email and fundraising communications,” the lawsuit states.

“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,”  said Steve Ritea, Senior Director of Media Relations for NYU Langone. “It’s a shameless effort reflecting poorly on their imagination and industry.”

Ramon Soto, chief marketing and communications officer for Northwell, said the firm’s identity isn’t wrapped up in the color purple.

“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 Code Lavender COVID-19 memorial,” Soto told The Post Thursday.

“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.”

Plenty of other hospital systems, including Northwestern Medicine, ECU health and Parkland, also use the color purple in signage and promotions, a Northwell rep said.

Northwell Health is based in New Hyde Park, Long Island, and bills itself as the state’s biggest private employer, with more than 85,000 employees and 21 hospitals in New York City.