Purple is the Colour

August 7, 2013

Purple is the Colour

Cadbury, the makers of Dairy Milk and other popular chocolate bars, has been successful with a claim that the colour of purple the company uses for the wrappings of its milk chocolate products is so closely connected with its brand and distinctive enough in character as to warrant trade mark protection.

The shade of purple (known as pantone 2685C) has been used by Cadbury for nearly a century. An application to register the colour as a trade mark was opposed by Nestlé, which claimed that a pantone shade is not a ‘graphical representation’ and thus cannot be registered as a trade mark.

Cadbury argued that the colour was accepted widely by the public as being associated with its products, so it should benefit from trade mark protection.

The trade mark application was accepted by the court, although its application has been limited to milk chocolate products produced by the confectionary giant.

This case shows that a colour is capable of being registered as a trade mark. However, the particular circumstances of the case are exceptional, both in terms of the length of the use and the high degree of public awareness of the particular colour.

Obtaining trade mark protection where possible is a sensible way to protect investment in brands.