A trade mark (in its simplest form) is a way of identifying your business’ products or services on the market. While I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that trade marks can be registered over a business’ words (such as a name or iconic phrase) or logo, you might be unaware that you can actually trade mark a colour where your business’ brand has become synonymous with that colour.
Australian Registered Colour Trade Marks
The following trade marked colours can only be used by their registered owners (or authorised parties) in Australia in relation to the corresponding goods or services (detailed below each colour):
How to register a colour as a trade mark?
In order to register a colour as a trade mark, the business needs to be
able to prove:
- the public identifies a colour as synonymous with a brand;
- the colour alone can identify the goods or services; and
- the colour is a trade mark in its own right.
This is more often than not seen in the form of a specific shade of colour (i.e. a pantone). However, the registration of a single colour as trade mark would (technically) be more difficult to achieve as a single colour is generally less unique and distinguishable than a combination of colours.
What can’t be trade marked?
Generally, colours that serve a function or are often used in society (having a generally accepted meaning) will be difficult to trade mark. These may include (for example) shades of:
- yellow, red or orange – often associated with hazard or stopping; and
- brown for a coffee bean supplier, or green for a business that sells grass – being the product’s inherent colour (serving a function).
The ones that weren’t to be
In 2018, V Energy had their attempt to register a shade of green as a trade mark (being Pantone 376C) rejected on the basis that the colour didn’t adequately distinguish their energy drinks in the market (after Coca-Cola, being Mother Energy Drinks, opposed their registration).
Trade Mark Application Number 1496541