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Colour Trademarks: Don’t Get Pantowned

Topics: Popular Media | 1 CommentBy admin | September 28, 2010

Cadbury and T-Mobile are probably the only organizations that defend their colors more vigorously than Crips and Bloods.

When you think of the color purple, what do you think of? How about magenta? Well I’d be willing to bet you don’t immediately think of Cadbury and T-Mobile. Which is perhaps unfortunate for them, because they’ve both gone to great lengths to establish colour trademarks . I don’t imagine the telecom company Orange struggles so much with this brand protection problem. Nor does Big Blue, in spite of long ago losing their corner on the market for the actual use of the color. And the massive conglomerate Altria seems to be trying to cover all the bases with their logo . But what sense is there in actually pursuing these kinds of trademarks? In my opinion, very little in most situations. I mean, in this context, if I ask you to think of a brand that’s defined by bright green and yellow, you’ll probably think of BP. Yet in spite of a sixteen year legal battle and their place in the relative no-man’s land of corporate colors (see below) they were unable to claim the color as a trademark in Australia. And if I mention yellow and red, there’s a fairly good chance you’ll think of McDonald’s, but they let the colors speak for themselves, and strangely more often try to protect their McName. Unlike Adidas, which has no color to protect, but defend the “three stripes” so vigorously that they sue whether you’re using two or four stripes. There are situations situations in which defending your color may make sense though, like Dow Corning protecting their pink insulation, or Tiffany defending their Tiffany Blue, which is a private Pantone color (PMS 1837) matching the year they were founded . These non-conventional trademarks can be rather amusing; although we’ve all probably worked with someone who has a “trademark smell”, I’d have to agree with the decision handed down in this case.

In spite of being in the no-man’s land of corporate color, BP couldn’t get a trademark.

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  1. Posted by The Best Of 2010 | dissociatedpress.com on 12.28.10 11:34 pm

    [...] eased up a bit on our usual RIAA-and-MPAA-bashing copyfight obsession, we had to ask how it is that you can own a color. We just can’t see the logic. We can’t see the invisible chimp though, [...]