In one of those legal decisions that make you wonder what planet you’re on, the High Court in the UK granted confectionery company Cadbury exclusive use of Pantone 2685C purple, but only for chocolate bar and drink packaging.
The ruling came as the result of a four-year legal battle between Cadbury – maker of those devilishly seductive (or disgusting, depending on whom you ask) Creme Eggs that pop up around Easter in North America – and chocolate-milk and candy-bar maker Nestlé. The case was launched in reaction to Cadbury’s 2004 application for trademark protection for the distinct shade of purple it uses on its packaging.
The decision is in keeping with other color-based trademarks in the UK: chichi department store Harrods owns its signature shade of green, while Christian Louboutin enjoys exclusive use of the red that adorns the soles of the shoes he makes.
What this means for the small candymaker in Wisconsin who picks Pantone 2685C purple as the logo-color for her new line of chocolate chews remains to be seen. Do we simply retire that Pantone shade from the book lest a reckless entrepreneur uses the color by accident? Forget the law for a moment – should any company hold a lock on a color? Drop us a line at email@example.com – that would be just (Pantone 13-1504 TCX Peach Blush) peachy.
Update [10/11/12]: Received an impassioned response to this story. Without further ado:
“A resounding NO! No more than any company should hold the rights to rice or corn or any of the natural things that have existed since the world exists!
If a child playing with color pencils, overlapping colors happens to duplicate this shade of Pantone will he/she be liable to Cadbury? The worst thing in this case is how the courts/judges behave.