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Colour, shape and get up protection

By Sarah Chatterley.

There may be characteristics other than the name of your product that can be protected by a trade mark registration. Good examples are “get up”, colour and shape. Think about what is memorable about the appearance of your products. What part of your product would you be unhappy to see on a competitor’s offering?

When you look at the selection of soft drinks available in a chiller cabinet, what do you see besides (or instead of) the names on the bottles? In some cases it would be the shape or the colour of the container. Think about the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle – it is easy to guess what drink is inside it without looking at the name. Tynant sells its mineral water in bottles of a particular colour, with the most recognizable being a particular shade of blue.

Similarly, Toblerone has registered the shape of the box and of the product itself for its chocolate bars since they are so distinctive and recognizable without the need for using their name. The company has realised that there is definite value in protecting these aspects of its product to stop others from copying them and losing part of its market to competitors.

Other examples of companies protecting their company identity:


ORANGE (the colour orange) – mobile telephones and network

BP’s colour green on its petrol stations,

The AA has registrations for the colour yellow,

Purple has also been protected for two different types of product – Cadbury’s has protected its purple for chocolate whilst Whiskas cat food is also recognized by its purple packaging. 

WD40 has protected the yellow and blue get-up as applied to their aerosol of rust protective spray

IKEA has registered blue and yellow for its products

Massey Ferguson has registered the colours of its tractors

Get up and shape

Chrysler has registered the appearance of the radiator grille on the front of the Jeep

Kodak – the shape and decoration of its film boxes, in colour and in black and white

BP – the shape of its oil cans

ICI – the appearance of its DULUX paint tins

Consider how damaging it would be to your product and business if a competitor started to sell their product in your market, or a similar field. Would your customers be confused? Would you lose business? Would your reputation be damaged? It may be worth evaluating the colours, shapes and get-up which are important to your business.

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This news item may contain information of general interest about current legal issues, but does not contain legal advice.