Purple trademarks: a sequel to Nestlé v Cadbury?


Alex Borthwick and Dominic Reilly

Purple trademarks: a sequel to Nestlé v Cadbury?

Faizal Ramli / Shutterstock.com

It is hardly surprising that protracted litigation has arisen out of attempts by established household brands to register colours as trademarks, explain Alex Borthwick and Dominic Reilly of Powell Gilbert.

A colour trademark is a powerful right, given the instant impact that the colour of goods and their packaging has on consumers and the potential for restricting competitor choice in respect of a key aspect of product design. However, as with other non-conventional trademarks, meeting the criteria for validity can be a significant challenge and registered colour trademarks are comparatively rare.

One example on the UK register is Tiffany and Company’s mark for Tiffany Blue in class 14 of the Nice Classification, including jewellery, and precious and semi-precious stones (figure 1).

Figure 1: Tiffany Blue

Nestlé, Cadbury, Powell Gilbert, litigation, colour trademarks, consumers, product design, protection, English Court of Appeal