August '22

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3 0 G R A P H I C S P R O A U G U S T 2 0 2 2 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M investment and the money spent on it, Owens-Corning was the first company in history to successfully trademark a single color. Since that ruling in 1985, several com- panies and institutions have trademarked single colors for use in their particular industry. In addition to the companies mentioned earlier in this article, Fiskars has a trademark on the orange used in their scissor handles. T-Mobile's signature magenta is protected by their parent com- pany. e Wiffle Ball Inc. has a trademark on the yellow used for their bats. e use of single-color trademarks also extends beyond the business world, with organizations like universities trademarking single colors as well. Keep in mind that this is a different thing than trademarking a color that might be used in a logo, the companies in these examples have literally trademarked swatches of color. It should be noted, however, that the trade- mark only is viable in the particular industry or particular good or service within which the company does business. TEAM COLORS So, we've talked about shoes and scissors and home insula- tion, but what does this all mean when it comes to team colors? Well, first, we've established that single colors and combinations of colors can be trademarked. When it comes to the colors that sports teams use, the term to know is "trade dress." Trade dress is concerned with the visual appearance of a product or its pack- aging that identifies this product to consumers. As opposed to a trademark, trade dress refers only to image and overall appear- ance. In determining whether trade dress is relevant and has been infringed, courts use the Louboutin test. Under this test, which is used to determine whether a design feature is nonfunctional and thus entitled to protection, courts determine three things: Is the design feature "essential to the use or purpose" of the product? Does the design feature "affect the cost or quality" of the product? Does the design feature have a significant effect on the competition? 1 2 3 This uniform was created by The Zone Sporting Goods in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. They created the design for the hat, jersey, pants, and socks. (All images courtesy The Zone at Scottsbluff Screen Printing) Since 1985, several companies and institutions have trademarked single colors for use in their particular industry. There is no changing something just enough to avoid infringement.

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