Branding a business is a complex and exciting process. One important decision you must make as a small business owner is choosing colors to represent your brand. This may be slightly more complicated than you imagine, given that some big companies have begun trademarking specific colors for their company’s use.
How does this work exactly?
As a reminder, a trademark is something that clearly identifies the source of the goods. Legally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark can be a brand name, a slogan, a logo or—in some cases—a color.
Trademarking a color gives a company the exclusive right to use that color in their chosen industry. It does not, however, give the company complete ownership of the color.
Who has claimed a signature color?
Companies who feel that a color is a truly essential part of their brand, like T-Mobile, can apply for a color trademark. T-Mobile has done so and is, in fact, a fierce defender of its signature magenta. Target, Tiffany & Co. and UPS have also trademarked their signature shades.
What does this mean for you?
As a small business owner, it means that color is yet another thing you must check has not been claimed before choosing to use it in your business. You may already be aware that brand names and logos need to be run through the USPTO database to check for viability before you move forward with the trademarking process yourself. Now, you need to verify that the colors you wish to use are available in the industry you are targeting as well.