The very idea of registering a colour as a trademark sounds absurd. How can one register a colour as a trademark? But on an honest note, a trademark registration can be obtained for the colours, which represent a particular business and what it stands for. To get a colour trademark registration, the colour, or the combination of colours, must be capable of differentiating that entity’s products from another.
1. What is a Colour Trademark?
According to the Trademarks Act, a trademark can be limited to a particular colour or a combination of colours. Nevertheless, it has to be noted that the colour, or the combination thereof, must be capable of distinguishing the products of the entity of that from the others in the market. The trademark applicant must have some concrete or satisfactory evidence as proof to show that the colour or the combination is in line with his goods or services.
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2. What are the Types of Colour Trademarks
When it comes to the types of colour trademarks, it boils down to the following:
- Single Colour Trademark
Consumers, on an average, may find it hard to distinguish the origin of goods and services solely based on their colour or the colour of the packaging. Therefore, a single colour trademark is accepted for registration if:
- The colour is very unusual and peculiar to the business.
- Consumers recognise it as a symbol or origin for a particular class of goods or services.
In other words, the colour must have the capacity to distinguish that entity’s goods from those of others.
Example: 3M Canary Yellow
The original post-it colour, ‘Canary Yellow’ was colour-marked by 3M. It was chosen as it was the only colour of scrap paper when the company started experimenting with sticky notes.
Limitations of ‘Single Colour Trademark’
The main concern here would be about how a consumer would identify the goods and services offered by the entity just by a single colour.
If a trademark is granted on a single colour, there is a 95% chance of it attracting opposition from the other players in the market and objections will be raised because nobody will let go of their right to use that particular colour considering the fact that the number of colours is limited.
- Combination of Colours Trademark
In order to register a combination of colours as a trademark, there are two essentials required:
- They have to be unique.
- They can be used to distinguish goods and services from a certain source; that is, it has to serve the consumer as an indication of a trade source.
Considering the choice of multiple colours that can be incorporated into the colour trademark, making it unique is not a challenging task. The burden is to create a combination that is an indicator of the goods and services offered by that particular company. This is because, at the time of filing for registration of the colour trademark, an explanation is to be given as to how that particular combination of colours represents or helps consumers distinguish the products of that entity from the others.
3. Paytm vs PayPal
This case came to light only after the demonetisation scheme was introduced by the government a few years ago. Since there was a dire need for cashless transactions to take place on a regular basis, Paytm suddenly gained popularity; its daily transactions grew from 2.5 million to 7 million in the first few days post demonetisation. This sudden spurt in growth and valuation alerted all the global players, one of them is PayPal.
In the complaint, PayPal accused Paytm of copying its two-tone blue colour scheme completely, considering that the first syllable in both cases is marked in a dark blue colour and the second is a light blue. Also, PayPal further noted that both marks begin with the word ‘Pay’, and that the consumers tend to remember the first syllable over the second one, which could lead to deceiving consumers. The fact that both the companies are associated with the same business activity, i.e. online payments and transactions, only increases the confusion in the minds of the consumers.
Here are a few points to keep in mind after considering the PayPal vs Paytm case:
- At the time of forming the company, a trademark search is always advised to avoid any future disputes or allegations.
- Ideally, the trademark search should be done before the approval of the name of the company.
- For better protection, it is advised to get the brand name registered.
- The trademark search, with regard to the likeness and resemblance of the brand name or company name in comparison with the ones existing, can be done by checking the trademark online directory.
All in all, the work related to registering a colour trademark can be a tricky and time-consuming process; therefore, it is best to take utmost care while carrying out any sort of activities related to it.