Yes, You Really Can Trademark A Colour

The distinctive purple tone used on Cadbury chocolate wrappers (Pantone 2685C purple) isn't just instantly recognisable — it's a legally-protected trademark. That trademark was upheld this week in a UK legal battle between Cadbury and rival Nestle, leaving the Kraft-owned Cadbury with the exclusive right to use the shade on chocolate bars and drinks.

Picture by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Cadbury also routinely specifies its purple shade in its Australian trademark registration. What does that mean in practical terms? If you want to sell chocolate bars, even home-made ones on a market stall, I'd stay away from that exact shade. You can still freely use it in other non-chocolate design contexts (its RGB values are 59, 0, 131, or #3B0083, if you're curious). But don't be surprised if people start drooling.

Colour trademarks don't stop similar colours being used; check out ALDI's Brekkie Mite for one obvious local example.

[via Design Week]


    so the RGB values are 59, 0, 131

    so if you were to change the value you are using to say 59, 0, 130 then technically its not the same colour and you can use it right?

      I seem to recall a lawsuit a couple of years back between Cadbury and Darrell Lee for selling chocolate in similarly coloured packaging - so I suspect it's more about the context in which it's used - rather than following the trademark down to the letter (or number in this case)

      Not quite Si.
      Changing the 130 to 131 wont really visually change the colour and it will still come closest to PMS 2685. They would be able to argue ownership of about 10% shade difference either side of the colour.

    how long til apple trademarks white

      I thought they trademarked the black phone? that's why Samsung have used stone blue now.

      Not sure if this is correct of not.

        Yes fear of having their phone temporarily barred in an injunction is why Samsung didn't release the black GS III. However it is apparently planned. Even though Samsung would have won the case, there might have been an injunction while the case was heard - like there was with their tablet in Europe and Australia (and Apple lost the case both times)

      Apple wants to trademark the letters A,P,L and E and also the letter 'i', all words beginning with 'i', all words with 'phone' in them, all maps of the world, and all fruits [no, I don't mean nutters] that have round corners.

    Hasn't Coca-Cola trademarked the colour red it uses?

    Colour trademarking isnt really a big deal, it seems to me that Cadbury are only trademarking it so it cant be used by other chocolate makers which seems fair.

      When I do work for Coke the material is called 'Coke Red' and suppliers know it as Coke Red.

    Well, there is a registered Caterpillar Yellow (you even have to be a registered paint supplier to mix & sell it), John Deere have their green, I'm sure there's a few others as well.

    i heard years ago that Toll had the colour of their trucks trademarked it is quite a common thing to do

    Meh. I made the beginnings of an article about trademarked colours on Wikipedia way back in 2008:

    It never really made it to publishing status, but Cadbury was listed alongside a bunch of other companies like the Coca-cola red, UPS brown, 3M's yellow, etc. Granted, this is a new case in the UK, but it's not as if there is no precedent.

    Last edited 03/10/12 10:55 am

      3M has yellow for a few things - I have earplugs here that state "The color yellow for earplugs are trademarks of 3M". It isn't somethign they fight, though, almost all earplugs can be bought in yelow colouring.

    Where I worked we had Harris data control systems. All the equipment racks were a light blue which was registered as Harris Blue.

    I think the 1970's had a lock on Mission Brown.

    hi.. this is an amazing content. registering a color is not an easy task. like trademark registration color registration is also very important. you can not register a particular color you can only register a specific shade of a particular color. registering a color trademark or a specific shade of a color for your brand/ company makes you look different in market. this will create a different image of your brand/company.
    like Cadbury they tried to register purple color but they wasn't successful but they ended up by registering a specific shade of purple color.
    today i came across a new website, where we can find more interesting content and information. you all should check this website:

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