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9 Trademarked Colors

Getty Images
Getty Images

Roy G. Biv better watch himself. From red to violet, it's completely legal for companies to stake a claim on any shade they want (provided they meet certain conditions), including the nine colors below. But don't throw out your adult coloring books just yet—trademarks are typically confined to certain industries or areas of expertise. For example, while you would certainly get a cease-and-desist letter for marketing your jewelry store with Tiffany Blue, you'd be perfectly within your rights to theme your bagel shop in the distinctive tone. (Just don't call it Breakfast at Tiffany's.)


QUALITEX green-gold color

Qualitex v. Jacobson Products Co., Inc., is what really put colormarking on the map. Qualitex had used a unique shade of green-gold for their dry cleaning presses since the 1950s, and in 1989 their competitor Jacobson Products began using a very similar shade. Qualitex sued, arguing trademark infringment and unfair competition. The fight went all the way to the Supreme Court, but in 1995 Qualitex won after the court ruled that color could serve as a trademark [PDF].


Tiffany Blue

Tiffany Blue was first associated with the upscale jeweler in 1845, when Charles Lewis Tiffany chose the robin's egg shade for the cover of the company's first catalog, or "Blue Book." According to the company, he may have selected the color because turquoise was a popular gemstone at the time. Today the color is not only trademarked (it has been since 1998), it also has its own custom Pantone number: 1837, the year the company was founded.



Owens-Corning, which manufactures roofing materials and insulation, was the first company to trademark a color—pink—in the 1980s. The shade is so entwined with the Owens-Corning product that the company officially licenses the Pink Panther for use on packaging. They defended their colormark in 2011, when a U.K.-based insulation company came out with their own blush-colored insulation materials.



T-Mobile is an enthusiastic defender of their colormark—they have sued or threatened to sue over the bright shade on at least three occasions. In 2008, they threatened litigation against Engadget Mobile for using magenta, even though there’s probably little danger of anyone confusing a website and a cell phone company. Then they sued Telia, a Swedish cell phone company, for using a pretty similar shade in Denmark. Not only did T-Mobile lose because the two companies don't compete in the same market, it also had to pay all of Telia’s court costs. AT&T, however, does compete in the same market as T-Mobile, so when they used a familiar shade of magenta for one of their brands in 2014, T-Mobile was able to put the kibosh on it. Though AT&T referred to the color as “plum,” a judge ruled against them.



Another protected shade of pink: Barbie Pink. It’s trademarked for use in more than 100 categories, from bubble bath to cereal. Mattel, Barbie's parent company, sued MCA Records in 1997 when the song "Barbie Girl" by Aqua came out. Mattel wasn't pleased about the use of their product in the song, of course, but they also alleged that the song's album cover resembled Barbie packaging too closely, including the use of Barbie Pink. The judge threw the case out of court with the memorable ruling, "The parties are advised to chill."


Cadbury Purple

Though royal purple has been associated with Cadbury since they wrapped their confections in the shade to honor Queen Victoria in the 1800s, the company is losing ground in the battle to use Pantone 2685C exclusively. For over a decade, the company has been embroiled in a legal skirmish with Nestle U.K., which seeks to use a similar color. Though Cadbury won the original case in High Court, the ruling was later overturned—and the war rages on.



Wiffle Ball bats were originally wooden. However, the yellow plastic incarnation that came along seven years later became so big that “Wiffle Ball Bat Yellow” was colormarked in 2008.



UPS’s signature color was originally called “Pullman Brown," and was reportedly picked because the rich tone was considered “the epitome of luxury” back when the UPS trucks were first painted with it in 1916. The color was trademarked in 1998.



3M colormarked the original Post-It color, Canary Yellow, for use in office and stationery products. The sunny hue was chosen because it was the only color of scrap paper on hand when the company started experimenting with the sticky notes.

A version of this story originally ran in 2011.

This Just In
Fictional Place Names Are Popping Up On Road Signs in Didcot, England

Driving along the highway in Didcot, England, you may notice something strange: the road signs point the way to places like Neverland and Middle-earth.

The names of these and other fictional locales from literature were seamlessly added to road signs by an artist/prankster using Transport Medium, the official font of British road signs.

After some sleuthing, BBC News found the man responsible, who spoke to the outlet on the condition of anonymity. He told the BBC that he's been orchestrating "creative interventions" all over England for about 20 years under different pseudonyms, and that this project was a reaction to Didcot being labeled "the most normal town in England" in 2017, which rubbed him the wrong way. "To me there's nowhere that's normal, there's no such thing, but I thought I'd have a go at changing people's perceptions of Didcot," he said of the town, which he describes as a "fun" and "funky" place.

Oxfordshire County Council isn't laughing; it told the BBC that although the signs were "on the surface amusing," they were "vandalism" and potentially dangerous, since it would be hard for a driver who spotted one not to do a double take while their eyes were supposed to be on the road. Even so, thanks to routine council matters, the signs are safe—at least for now—as the Council says that it is prioritizing fixing potholes at the moment.

Jackie Billington, Didcot's mayor, recognizes that the signs have an upside. "If you speak to the majority of people in Didcot they're of the same opinion: it's put Didcot on the map again," he told BBC News. "Hopefully they'll be up for a couple of weeks."

There are five altered signs in total. If you fancy a visit to the Emerald City, you're pointed toward Sutton Courtenay. Narnia neighbors a power station. And Gotham City is on the same route as Oxford and Newbury (and not, apparently, in New Jersey, as DC Comics would have you believe). If you want to go see the signs for yourself before they disappear, you'll find them along the A4130 to Wallingford.

See the signs here and in the video below.

[h/t BBC News]

Prepare to Be Stumped By This Math Problem Meant for Fifth Graders

Math is hard. Just ask Mumsnet user PeerieBreeks, who posted a ‘simple’ math riddle meant for fifth graders to the parenting website, and ended up with more than 500 comments—many of them from adults struggling to come up with the correct answer. Here’s the riddle:

For the most part, the problem-solvers who shared their answers all believed that the man made a profit, but whether it was $10, $20, or $30 seemed to be in hot dispute. Can you figure it out? (Scroll down for the answer. We’ll give you a minute …)






The wording of the riddle, not the math, seems to be what’s throwing most people off. Because the transactions in question relate to the same horse, people are looking at it as a single, four-part transaction—buys, sells, buys, sells. But the correct way to look at the problem, and figure out the answer, is to look at it as just two transactions: a man bought a horse and sold a horse. A man bought a horse and sold a horse. (The man could just as easily have bought and sold a dog in one of those transactions and it wouldn’t change the outcome.)

All of which is to say that the correct answer is: The man made a $20 profit.