Trademarking Color

We all can cite how certain colors are intimately associated with certain brands.  Tiffany’s blue, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Pink, and McDonald’s yellow and red are just a few examples.   But can a color actually be trademarked in marketing?  Yes it can, and Tiffany’s blue is a good example of this.   But can a brand legally preclude other brands from using a color?  Put simply, the answer is “yes”. But the courts have indicated there are ‘functional’ aspects to colors (e.g. the use of blue for ‘cold’ as it is culturally associated with that attribute), and any claims of proprietary ownership must overcome these (read article for details on this). Without such distinction we would run out of colors to use fast.
Since marketing research indicates that over 80% of visual information is related to color, trademarking of colors and color combinations is increasingly an interesting, if contentious topic.  So, can Campbell’s Soup ‘control’ red and white and stop other brands from using that color combination? Do these colors meet any ‘functional’ characteristics for the categories it serves?  For answers, read on….
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