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Brands Trademarking Colours

Discussion in 'Logo Design & Brand Identity Forum:' started by ARRIVALS, Jan 25, 2012.


    ARRIVALS Well-Known Member

    I find this quite funny.

    Jeremy Dickerson, Intellectual Property Lawyer and Chris Morris, Trade Mark Attorney, at International law firm, Burges Salmon want to discuss the possibility of brands trademarking specific colours following a ruling from the UK Intellectual Property Office in favour of Cadbury and its use of the colour purple.

    One of Cadburys' competitors, Nestle, have argued that a colour cannot be trademarked because colours are widely used in trade and purple was commonly in use by other companies when Cadbury applied for the trademark.

    I guess this makes sense, but what do you recon?

    Would Skittles get away with trademarking every colour of the rainbow? :icon_tongue_smilie:
  2. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    I'd say if your company/service/product is identifiable by a colour alone then your branding works extremely well.
    Knowing what a brand is, it's quality, the expectation via a single colour alone is a fantastic achievement and I can see why Cadbury's feel they 'own' the colour.
    But I do feel that 'colour protection' should be relative to a particular market i.e confectionery and be accompanied by the logo colouration, typeface etc.

    (I used to work for a display company who received a warning from a major shopfitting company saying that they had a patent on the concept of ANY device that allowed a garment to hang from a wall and that our design infringed this. We simply found our book on the Shaker (wall-based hanging rails) movement and funnily we didn't hear back from them!)

    I personally can never understand how Aldi get away with so many of their 'lookalike' brands, that from a few feet away, look like the real brands.

    I look forward to seeing how a new mobile phone operator calling themselves 'Tangerine' would fair?
  3. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    I kind of agree that Cadbury should be able to prevent another confectioner or competitor branding themselves with 'their' recognised shade of purple, to some extent at least, but actually being able to trademark a colour sounds stupid.

    What would happen if all possible hues have been trademarked (probably by Apple)? Would we be unable to use any form of colour in brand identity again? Would black and white also be classed as 'colours'? Would it be ok to combine separate trademarked colours together and trademark that?

    What if I managed to trademark 'Coke red' before they did? Would I be legally allowed to force them to change their brand colour, or would their dominance mean I was given the shitty end of the stick and forced to sell or hand over the rights to them?

    Interesting, and also a little worrying, to think about.

    ARRIVALS Well-Known Member

    Try it, and let us know how you get on! :icon_thumbup:
  5. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    But I think that Apple would need to have been more specific and trademark the rainbow/banded effect contained within a fruit shape - rather than general 'we own red, orange, green etc.'

    I think the prominence of Cadbury's purple IS what makes it's brand identity.

    ARRIVALS Well-Known Member

    If they were to agree to this, and that's a BIG if, the only way I can see them doing it is if the companies that want to copyright particular colours, can prove without a shadow of a doubt that the colour is the thing that makes the brand. And the copyright would only prevent competitors within THEIR sector using them. Cross-sector copyright would be ludicrous, and would never happen.

    Perhaps they'd only let companies who have been running for a particular amount of years, who are worth a particular amount of money, trademark such colours as well?
  7. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    Wasn't the very first trademark to be registered a simple red triangle (Bass)?

    ARRIVALS Well-Known Member

    This one? I think so. Wonder if that would have included the typeface? Must have worked either way, I can't think of any other red triangle based logos off the top of my head.

    Attached Files:

  9. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    Will begin extensive research into pub beer brands this weekend ;)

    ARRIVALS Well-Known Member

    Let us now how you get on!
  11. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    OK then I claim Pantone 200, 274 and 320!

    Arrivals appears to have trademarked yellow square, and the letter A (Helvetica?)

    If you are big enough you can stop other people using similar designs... I know that Harrods and Rolls Royce, and Road Runner have all taken local companies to court (or threatened to) over similar styles or in the case of RoadRunner the name!

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