andrewharrington

Trademarking a Color

26 posts in this topic

This topic comes up every now and then. Here's one I didn't know about:

Tiffany Blue

I wonder how many other companies have their own custom, PANTONE-recognized colors that are completely exclusive and not printed in the book.

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TaylorMade used to have a line in their legal sign-off on all their products that stated their copper color was a trademark.

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Similar but different - Harley Davidson has trademarked the sound of their motorcycles.

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Similar but different - Harley Davidson has trademarked the sound of their motorcycles.

No, they tried to do that but were laughed out of court for it. Basically, they tried to trademark the sound of the engines they used, which their competitors also used. If they got the trademark, it would have meant their competitors wouldn't have been allowed to use those engines, thus harming their business. It was a transparent attempt at corporate sabotage and didn't work.

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UPS has the color brown trademarked in the delivery industry. Not sure if it's a specific shade, or brown in general.

Didn't know that about Tiffany, though. Interesting.

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UPS has the color brown trademarked in the delivery industry. Not sure if it's a specific shade, or brown in general.

It's a very specific shade. Lots of companies do it via exact Pantone specifications.

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UPS has the color brown trademarked in the delivery industry. Not sure if it's a specific shade, or brown in general.

It's a very specific shade. Lots of companies do it via exact Pantone specifications.

Right - but if I started a delivery company (or if another changed theirs) to a similar but different shade of brown, wouldn't it be infringing on their trademark? Wasn't that their point?

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UPS has the color brown trademarked in the delivery industry. Not sure if it's a specific shade, or brown in general.

It's a very specific shade. Lots of companies do it via exact Pantone specifications.

Right - but if I started a delivery company (or if another changed theirs) to a similar but different shade of brown, wouldn't it be infringing on their trademark? Wasn't that their point?

No, it wouldn't, because the other company could just point out that it doesn't match the Pantone specifications of UPS' brown and thus, no trademark infringement. It's the exact shade. If UPS was allowed to trademark all shades of brown, it would lead to a similar situation (though not nearly as bad since brown isn't the only color a company can use) as the Harley-Davidson example I mentioned.

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UPS has the color brown trademarked in the delivery industry. Not sure if it's a specific shade, or brown in general.

It's a very specific shade. Lots of companies do it via exact Pantone specifications.

Right - but if I started a delivery company (or if another changed theirs) to a similar but different shade of brown, wouldn't it be infringing on their trademark? Wasn't that their point?

No, it wouldn't, because the other company could just point out that it doesn't match the Pantone specifications of UPS' brown and thus, no trademark infringement. It's the exact shade. If UPS was allowed to trademark all shades of brown, it would lead to a similar situation (though not nearly as bad since brown isn't the only color a company can use) as the Harley-Davidson example I mentioned.

I'd have to think there's something stopping another delivery company from painting their trucks brown and calling themselves USP.

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Similar but different - Harley Davidson has trademarked the sound of their motorcycles.

No, they tried to do that but were laughed out of court for it. Basically, they tried to trademark the sound of the engines they used, which their competitors also used. If they got the trademark, it would have meant their competitors wouldn't have been allowed to use those engines, thus harming their business. It was a transparent attempt at corporate sabotage and didn't work.

My mistake. I didn't recall hearing about the outcome. That's what I get for assuming.

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UPS has the color brown trademarked in the delivery industry. Not sure if it's a specific shade, or brown in general.

It's a very specific shade. Lots of companies do it via exact Pantone specifications.

Right - but if I started a delivery company (or if another changed theirs) to a similar but different shade of brown, wouldn't it be infringing on their trademark? Wasn't that their point?

No, it wouldn't, because the other company could just point out that it doesn't match the Pantone specifications of UPS' brown and thus, no trademark infringement. It's the exact shade. If UPS was allowed to trademark all shades of brown, it would lead to a similar situation (though not nearly as bad since brown isn't the only color a company can use) as the Harley-Davidson example I mentioned.

It wouldn't be as cut and dry as you say because courts don't require the marks be exactly the same. If the marks--in this case the shade of brown--are not identical, then the court would examine whether there is likelihood of confusion that consumers would believe the goods/services came from the owner of the mark. There are several tests used by courts to examine that likelihood, the more famous being the DuPont factors and AMF v. Sleekcraft Boats, but I think UPS would have a very strong argument against a delivery company using brown trucks.

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UPS has the color brown trademarked in the delivery industry. Not sure if it's a specific shade, or brown in general.

It's a very specific shade. Lots of companies do it via exact Pantone specifications.

Right - but if I started a delivery company (or if another changed theirs) to a similar but different shade of brown, wouldn't it be infringing on their trademark? Wasn't that their point?

No, it wouldn't, because the other company could just point out that it doesn't match the Pantone specifications of UPS' brown and thus, no trademark infringement. It's the exact shade. If UPS was allowed to trademark all shades of brown, it would lead to a similar situation (though not nearly as bad since brown isn't the only color a company can use) as the Harley-Davidson example I mentioned.

It wouldn't be as cut and dry as you say because courts don't require the marks be exactly the same. If the marks--in this case the shade of brown--are not identical, then the court would examine whether there is likelihood of confusion that consumers would believe the goods/services came from the owner of the mark. There are several tests used by courts to examine that likelihood, the more famous being the DuPont factors and AMF v. Sleekcraft Boats, but I think UPS would have a very strong argument against a delivery company using brown trucks.

Aha, thanks for the correction.

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i believe Coca Cola's red, Mickey Mouse's red pants (Disney), and Kodak gold are all trademarked.

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SPAM above me...

But I remember hearing that Fenway's Green Monster color is trademarked as well

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SPAM above me...

But I remember hearing that Fenway's Green Monster color is trademarked as well

It's not trademarked per se but it is considered proprietary by the Red Sox. It's called "Fence Green" and made by California Paints, the formula is kept secret and the color isn't sold.

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Similar but different - Harley Davidson has trademarked the sound of their motorcycles.

How can you do that?

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Guess the Leafs didn't get the memo (and I say that in all seriousness - is it that their shade of blue is too common to trademark?).

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Hmm...I suppose if any sports team has a good a shot at trademarking a color, it'd be the Buccaneers?both their current pewter, and their former orange.

Or would they even be able to do that?

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Hmm...I suppose if any sports team has a good a shot at trademarking a color, it'd be the Buccaneers—both their current pewter, and their former orange.

Or would they even be able to do that?

pretty sure the means of it wide open. anyone could it. id have to look into the "rules" further to be sure though

another color thats trademarked i thought of is John Deere green. "if it aint green, it aint mean!"

john-deere-2520.jpg

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Do any of these companies have what basically amounts to their own secret Pantone® color that's not in the flip books like Tiffany?

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Do any of these companies have what basically amounts to their own secret Pantone® color that's not in the flip books like Tiffany?

i believe thats the case for John Deere. it seems PMS 364 will get you close to their green, but not exact. im not sure if they selected a swatch PANTONE came up with previously, then trademarked it, or if PANTONE created one specifically for them though.

i looked into the color a little and found this on their legal website page: "John Deere's green and yellow color scheme, the leaping deer symbol, and John Deere are trademarks of Deere & Company." so it seems their yellow/gold is also trademarked?

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Do any of these companies have what basically amounts to their own secret Pantone® color that's not in the flip books like Tiffany?

i believe thats the case for John Deere. it seems PMS 364 will get you close to their green, but not exact. im not sure if they selected a swatch PANTONE came up with previously, then trademarked it, or if PANTONE created one specifically for them though.

i looked into the color a little and found this on their legal website page: "John Deere's green and yellow color scheme, the leaping deer symbol, and John Deere are trademarks of Deere & Company." so it seems their yellow/gold is also trademarked?

To me, what that says is, "If you want to sell lawn care equipment, it can't be green and yellow." I haven't yet found any other verified examples of companies having their own private custom colors in the PANTONE® library.

I found this interesting: If you're a company looking to, say, trademark the color of your packaging, the color can't be a natural, functional or common choice for the product you sell. So, blue, for example, can't be trademarked by a company that sells ice or water or frozen desserts, etc. Yellow or orange probably couldn't be trademarked by a company that sells tanning oils.

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