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Trademarking a Color


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#1 andrewharrington

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 21:28

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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#2 CRichardson

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 21:29

TV Tropes has a listing of a few of them: http://tvtropes.org/...eyOwnsThisTrope

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#3 andrewharrington

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 21:35

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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#4 Sec19Row53

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 21:42

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

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 21:52

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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#6 sc49erfan15

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 22:21

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.

#7 CRichardson

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 22:22

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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#8 sc49erfan15

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 22:26


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?

#9 CRichardson

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 22:30



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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#10 sc49erfan15

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 23:02




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.

#11 CRichardson

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Posted March 25, 2012 - 23:07

If you include the name, then yeah, UPS would probably have a case.

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#12 Sec19Row53

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Posted March 26, 2012 - 10:49


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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#13 Mingjai

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Posted March 26, 2012 - 11:05




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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#14 CRichardson

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Posted March 26, 2012 - 12:06





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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#15 pianoknight

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Posted March 28, 2012 - 01:48

Symantec has copyrighted a shade of Pantone yellow.

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#16 BrandMooreArt

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Posted March 28, 2012 - 08:00

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

#17 stumpygremlin

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Posted April 13, 2012 - 11:45

SPAM above me...

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

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#18 speedy

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Posted April 13, 2012 - 13:26

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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#19 bucknut40

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Posted April 13, 2012 - 16:49

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

How can you do that?
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#20 BigBubba

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Posted April 17, 2012 - 16:48

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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