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9 Trademarked Colors

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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.)

1. QUALITEX GREEN-GOLD

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].

2. TIFFANY BLUE

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.

3. OWENS-CORNING PINK

OWENS-CORNING PINK

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.

4. T-MOBILE MAGENTA

T-MOBILE MAGENTA

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.

5. BARBIE PINK

BARBIE PINK

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."

6. CADBURY PURPLE

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.

7. WIFFLE BALL BAT YELLOW

WIFFLE BALL BAT YELLOW

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.

8. UPS BROWN

UPS BROWN

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.

9. 3M CANARY YELLOW

3M CANARY YELLOW

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.

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Can You Find the Money in Santa’s Sack in This Hidden Image Puzzle?
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Vouchercloud, a website and app for online deals, brings us this holiday-themed test of your vision just in time for Christmas. Hidden among all the identical Santa Clauses carrying sacks of presents, one financially-savvy Santa is carrying a big sack of money. Can you figure out where he is? (Warning: Spoilers below.)

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Listen to What Darth Vader Sounded Like On the Star Wars Set
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

The voice of Darth Vader, provided by James Earl Jones, is one of the most iconic aspects of the original Star Wars movies. But James Earl Jones wasn't the actor wearing that outfit—it was British actor David Prowse, who was cast in part because he was huge (reportedly 6'5" and a former body-building champion).

George Lucas always intended to replace Prowse's voice, but it's still a bit of a shock to hear a muffled British voice coming out of Darth Vader's helmet. Here's video showing what Darth Vader sounded like on the set before James Earl Jones re-recorded the dialogue.

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