Jan 31, 2023Legal
Can You Trademark a Color? Understanding the Complexities of Color Trademarking

When it comes to trademarking, most people think of logos or slogans. But what about colors? Can a color be trademarked? The answer is yes, but it's not as simple as you might think.

The first thing to understand is that a trademark is a way to protect a brand's unique identity. It's a symbol, word, or phrase that identifies a specific product or service and distinguishes it from those of other companies. A color can serve this purpose just as well as a logo or slogan. However, in order for a color to be eligible for trademark protection, it must be used in a specific and unique way that identifies the brand.

For example, the color pink has been trademarked by Owens Corning for use on their insulation products. They have been using the color pink for their insulation products for many years and have established a secondary meaning for pink insulation, so it became eligible for trademark protection. Similarly, UPS has trademarked the color brown for use on their delivery trucks and uniforms. The color brown has become synonymous with UPS in the minds of consumers, so it was eligible for trademark protection.

However, colors can't be trademarked if they are used in a functional way. For instance, a car manufacturer can't trademark the color red for use on their cars because it is a functional color that is commonly used in the car industry. Additionally, colors that are commonly used in a particular industry or field can't be trademarked as well.

In conclusion, while it is possible to trademark a color, it is a complex process that requires a unique and specific usage of the color that identifies the brand and is not functional. Additionally, the color should not be commonly used in a particular industry or field. Companies that want to trademark a color should consult with an attorney who specializes in trademark law to ensure that their application meets all the requirements.

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