There’s more to a trademark than just a name. What do Tiffany blue, Motorola magenta, Owens Corning pink, Cadbury purple, UPS brown, and Barbie pink have in common? All these colors are trademarked. When colors are specifically associated with a certain company, in a certain industry, offering a certain product they can be registered part of a trademark.
You may want to trademark more than your company or product name.
Your color or color combination may be trademarked if you use a specific color in your packaging and marketing that sets you apart from the competition. However, you can’t trademark a color just because you use it; it has to make your brand recognizable and distinct.
Why trademark your colors or color scheme?
A trademark isn’t just a name, but all the identifiers that make one company, brand, product, or service, distinguishable from all the others selling similar products or services. Many of us recognize brands not just by name, but by color, too.
What shipping company comes to mind when you think of brown? What coffee company comes to mind when you think of green and white? These automatic associations are good way to strengthen brand identification and a business owner would always rather that people in the market always connect appearance of a mark, including color, to their business and not to someone else’s.
Can you trademark your color?
Yes, a color can be trademarked, but subject to the same criteria as any other trademark, since it is the color itself that is being trademarked. As with other trademarks, you can’t create an overly broad trademark, both the color and goods or services must be narrowly described. For example, Cadbury successfully registered the narrow and specific trademark of the color Pantone 2685C for chocolate products. Cadbury tried and failed to trademark the color purple, which was too broad. Tiffany blue is a specific shade of robin’s egg blue, Pantone 1837, and can only be used to sell jewelry.
So, does that mean no one else can use that color now?
You can’t trademark a color or color scheme someone else has already trademarked. You may also have a hard time enforcing a trademark when someone else in the same industry, selling the same products, has been using the same colors or color scheme long before you arrived on the scene. For example, you may have a very hard time registering the colors combination red and green for a Christmas ornament store because those color combinations bring to mind Christmas in general in the West, and are already in use by many other Christmas stores. Another caveat is that if the color is functional or the only color the goods can be produced in then you cannot trademark it.
But, never say never until you know for sure. An attorney that practices in trademark law can offer you advice. Our IP lawyers can help you determine if you can and should register your colors as a trademark. If so, we can also help you through the trademark process to ensure that the paperwork is done thoroughly and accurately. Protecting your color or color scheme could be the competitive edge you need. If you’d like to get started, call our Trademark and Intellectual Property law firm at 888-666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.
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