Question from Amy K.:
Hello Invention Geek,
Can you trademark a color?
In some cases, yes, a color can be trademarked. In 1995, The Supreme Court ruled in Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Products Co., Inc. that a color can be trademarked under certain circumstances.
The court ruled that in order for a color to be trademarked it must have “secondary meaning” and it must not be functional. Secondary meaning implies that consumers now associate a color and a product. Functionality means that the color must serve an aesthetic purpose and must have no impact on the use of the product. For example, Fiskars® has trademarked the orange handled scissors. The ORANGE scissors have become recognized as Fiskars® scissors, and no other’s, even though any color scissors would still function as… scissors!
Other examples of trademarked colors include the pink of Owens Corning® insulation and the brown used on the trucks and uniforms for UPS®.
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