11 August 2014

Of oil and the colour green

BP loses battle to trademark the colour green in Australia

So what's exactly going on? Here's our take on the current situation.
A colour, by itself or in combination with other colour(s), may qualify as a trademark. However, registering colours per se as a trademark is more an exception rather than the rule. 

In many cases, achieving registration for a colour mark would require the applicant to show that the colour(s) in question has acquired distinctiveness through extensive use in relation to the claimed goods/services. For example, Singapore Reg. No. T9906795F for the famous three horizontal stripes colour mark in respect of retail services filed by 7-Eleven, INC in 1999 was granted registration after the registrar was satisfied that the lodged evidence of use showed that consumers in Singapore have come to identify the colour combination as identifying that the services originate from the 7-Eleven, INC and no other.

The difficulty in registering colours as trademark is one of public policy; the balance of granting monopoly over the use of a particular colour to a single trader without unduly restricting availability of colours for other traders who offer similar products or services.

In BP’s attempt to registering the colour mark, the authority was not persuaded that the lodged evidence was sufficient to show that it has acquired distinctiveness through substantial use.

Edward Jui