- Tiffany – Blue
- Target – Red
- Coca-Cola – Red
- UPS – Brown
- The Home Depot – Orange
- Barbie – Pink
- John Deer – Green & Yellow
However there were three famous recent cases where the going wasn’t as straightforward. One in the U.K. where in 2014 Cadburys lost a five year battle to rival company Nestle to trademark the colour purple which they had first introduced to their products in 1914.
“The process of registering a colour is not an easy one. The applicant must show that they have both used the colour as a trade mark and that the public have come to identify that colour with its particular goods or services.
Cadbury's application was opposed by Darrell Lea Chocolate Shops Pty Ltd.
The Registrar of Trade Marks found that Cadbury had used a particular shade of purple as a trade mark since about 1994 and had established its ownership of this trade mark only in relation to block chocolate and boxed chocolates. If Cadbury Limited amended its application to this single shade of purple and restricted it to block chocolate and boxed chocolates, the colour could be registered.”
The second in 2014 when BP had it’s applications rejected by IP Australia who found that BP was unable to show “convincing evidence” that the colour green was linked to BP by petrol consumers.
BP first tried to register a trademark for the colour in 1991, and until 2013 fought legal battles against another corporate titan, Woolworths, to stake its claim to the colour as the dominant shade for its service stations.
A spokeswoman for the energy company did not confirm whether BP would continue trying to claim the colour, saying only: “The colour green has been central to the BP brand since the 1930s and we believe it should be protected.”
A third example was in 2011 when hardware chain Mitre 10 sought an injunction against a newcomer to the market, Masters, whose white lettering on blue background, Mitre 10 said, would trick consumers into thinking the stores were affiliated, or the same.
The injunction was denied, the judge reasoning that white and blue were standard colours for hardware brands, that Mitre 10 had been using the colours only since 2007, and that, “in the face of clearly different names and marks labelling the rival stores”, no customer was likely to confuse the two.
Some companies have succeeded though. Queensland fruit grower Fada has claimed the red wax that covers the bottom third of its bananas, while in Australia the pet-food brand Whiskas has won the right to the colour purple.