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Chloe Fernandez
Chloe Fernandez,
Universal's yellow minions resurrect the issues surrounding colour trade marks
05 August 2015

The Pantone Color Institute has recently announced the creation of a new Pantone colour, Minion Yellow, the first ever character-branded colour. The Institute states that the colour “heightens awareness and creates clarity…the color [sic] of hope, joy and optimism”.

Whether Universal will now apply to register the colour as a trade mark for its merchandise is hotly debated. A colour trade mark can be registered, provided it is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of another. Sufficient clarity must be given using recognised colour codes, such as Pantone, along with a list of specific goods of interest which must be defined precisely and unambiguously. Since the grant of a registration of a shade of colour will effectively give the proprietor a monopoly right over use of that colour, it is not surprising that applications for colour marks come under such scrutiny.

The route to registration can be arduous and Cadbury notably lost its registration for its famous colour purple because its trade mark hadn’t been sufficiently well defined. 

However, there are many examples of successfully registered colour marks, including the contrasting red soles on shoes from designer Christian Louboutin which were deemed sufficiently distinctive to achieve trade mark protection and the turquoise colour used by H.J.Heinz for their baked beans packaging.

If you would like any advice on registering a colour trade mark, please contact Chloe Fernandez.

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.

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