The Colour Purple

The colour purple, no not the film or the book, the colour purple in packaging for chocolate used as a trademark.  Purple, or more specifically the colour pantone 2685c, is now a trademark alongside Cadbury for Kraft who bought the English chocolate maker in 2010.  Reported in Confectionary News* and widely elsewhere the decision by the UK’s Intellectual Property office to reject an opposition by rival Nestle is a clear gain for Kraft, and Cadbury.  A colour trademark is widely regarded as a valuable asset.
That a colour could be the subject of a trademark, as compared to the name Cadbury may come as a surprise, but colour, provided that there is evidence of association of the colour with a company’s product or service, can be registered as a trademark.   In this case Cadbury/Kraft have succeeded for chocolate bars but not yet for chocolate confectionary, a subtle but important difference.
The importance and value of a colour trademark can be seen both in the enthusiasm with Cadbury/Kraft welcomed there news of their success, and in the very fact that Nestle had opposed that trademark and were silent at their loss.  Cadbury told The Birmingham Post** “Purple is a colour that has been used by Cadbury for more than 100 years – the colour has always been associated with Cadbury”.  Nestle commented to Confectionary News that they “will assess the final decision once it has been issued”. As the colour has to be approved as a trademark for chocolate confectionary and other products, the case is not closed for Nestle.
Whether we are in business as individuals, as small companies, or giants like Kraft and Nestle, our brand is valuable intellectual property.  We invest in associating our name, our styling, even colours with our products and services so that people will know who they are buying from and that they can rely on what we offer.  That makes our trademarks valuable to us, and if we don’t look after them, others will try use them.  Defending our name, our trade name, won’t always mean defending actions like Cadbury/Kraft had to but we should be aware of assets, value them and protect them.