August '22

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 33 of 104

A nyone who works in garment decoration or promo- tional products probably knows a story, if only third- or fourth-hand, of a company that got hit with a massive fine or shut down entirely for using "trademarked" colors of a sports team. e first question many people ask is this: Can you really trademark a color? When you think about it, there are certain colors that seem closely aligned with certain companies. Seeing Tiffany Blue or UPS Brown or Louboutin Red makes you think of a certain company or product, but can the companies actu- ally own or trademark their signature colors? For quite a long time, the answer to that question was no. While companies had successfully trademarked a combination of colors (Campbell's soup labels are an example), no company had been allowed to trademark a single color. e U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is the office that processes applica- tions and awards trademarks, did not allow companies to take ownership of a single shade of a particular color for a couple of reasons. One reason single color trademarks were not allowed was because there are only a finite number of colors, 1,867 at last count of the Pantone solid color swatches. If compa- nies were allowed to start trademarking single colors, we'd eventually run out of colors to be used. Another reason was the shade confusion theory. Given that some shades of a color vary only slightly from each other, consum- ers would have difficulty identifying the differences. ose arguments prevailed for a very long while. Until pink home insulation came along. A LITTLE HISTORY Owens-Corning had been making insulation since the 1950s, and in the beginning, it was tan, like all insulation was back then. To dif- ferentiate their product, they dyed it pink, cre- ated marketing campaigns emphasizing the pink color and ultimately spent millions of dollars selling the idea that pink was the color to have when it came to insulation. Eventually, after a five-year legal battle waged to protect their A P P A R E L D E C O R A T I N G FOCUSING ON Team Colors CREATING UNIQUE COLOR COMBINATIONS THAT DON'T PUSH THE BOUNDARIES OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT B Y K R I S T I N E S H R E V E G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 2 A U G U S T G R A P H I C S P R O 2 9 As opposed to a trademark, trade dress refers only to image and overall appearance.

Articles in this issue

view archives of GRAPHICS PRO - August '22