How likely is Prince's Purple Reign?
Since the news that Prince’s Estate have filed a United States Trade Mark Application for the colour purple, a lot of people were asking, “Can you trade mark a colour?”.
Short answer, yes.
Just like Scent Trade Marks, a colour trade mark can be obtained for a specific shade of colour, or combination of colours, if it is distinctive to a brand or product. However, successfully registering a colour trade mark can be difficult, particularly for individual colours. For example, the battle over the colour green between BP and Woolworths.
Essentially the colour (or combination of) has to be the trade mark, and not just a part of the goods or packaging. In saying that, many large companies have taken advantage of this to protect their brand from competitors attempting to imitate them.
In Australia, there are already existing colour trade marks:
- Cadbury trade marked the colour purple (Pantone 2685C) for the packaging of their chocolate products;
- Tiffany & Co trade marked the colour Tiffany Blue (Pantone 1837) for their various products;
- Christian Louboutin trade marked the colour red (Pantone 18.1663TP) for the red sole of their shoes;
- Australian Post Corporation trade marked the colour red (Pantone 186C) for their services;
- Surf Life Saving Australia trade marked the colour red and yellow for their flag (Pantone 186c and 136-137) and their uniform (Pantone 485C and 109C); and
- Cricket Australia trade marked the colour and the shape of their caps.
Let’s not forget about our neighbour, New Zealand, who were ahead of Australia for the trade mark of certain colours, such as;
- Mars trade marked the colour purple (CMYK: cyan 40%, magenta 100%) for their cat products;
- Shell trade marked the colour red (Pantone 179C) and yellow (Pantone 122C) for their petrol station and services;
- ANZ trade marked the colour blue (PMS Process Blue) for their financial services; and
- Duracell trade marked the colours copper and black for their battery.
With Paisley Park Enterprises, Prince’s company, filing a United States Trade Mark application for shades similar to Love Symbol #2 (a custom colour created by Pantone® to honour the icon), the aim is to protect that colour only being used by the owners of the coloured mark, or licensees, in the music industry.
Prince has been using purple as part of his identity for over 30 years. However, given how rare it is to register a colour trade mark, it would be a surprise to many if Paisley Park Enterprises were to be granted the colour trade mark.
Most of us have associated scents with memories and locations that are familiar to us. But what if that scent was made specifically to help you associate it with a particular product being used or store you are perusing?
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