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Research shows that the color of a product significantly influences consumer behavior. According to one researcher, color is 85% of the reason you purchase a specific product.
Different colors mean different things. Therefore, it is important for brand professionals to use colors the right way. Here are the perceived meanings of different colors in the United States (source):
: Lust, Negative Issues, Excitement, Love
: Jealousy, Competence, Happiness
: Good Taste, Envy
: Masculine, Competence, High Quality, Corporate
: Sophistication, Sincerity
: Authority, Sophistication, Power
: Grief, Sophistication, Expensive, Fear
: Happiness, Sincerity, Purity
Given the important psychological effect of colors on consumers, it is important to include colors in your brand protection strategy. This means obtaining federal trademark registrations. The color of a product can be registered as a trademark if it is distinctive and not functional.
A color may be functional if it provides a utilitarian advantage, such as yellow or orange for safety signs. A color may also be functional if it is more economical to manufacture or use. For example, a color may be the natural by-product of the manufacturing process.
The color of a product will also be evaluated for distinctiveness. Since color marks can never be inherently distinctive, the applicant must demonstrate that the color of the product has acquired distinctiveness indicating the origin of the products. This can be done through sales figures, details of advertising and promotional expenditure, and examples of promotional material.
A well-known example of a federally registered color mark with acquired distinctiveness is the pink insulation made by Owens Corning:
Originally, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refused registration because it claimed that Owens Corning had not demonstrated that the color was distinctive of its products. On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed the USPTO and held that the color pink for insulation was entitled to registration. In so ruling, the Court pointed to substantial evidence of acquired distinctiveness including advertising expenditures exceeding $42 million and a consumer survey showing that consumer recognition as to the source of pink insulation was 50%. The Court also cited the television commercials featuring the "Pink Panther":
Please be sure to "think pink" when it comes to protecting the colors associated with your products. A federal trademark registration will help you protect your reputation, and it will help consumers to distinguish among competing producers.
The lawyers at Trademarkology provide online trademark registration services backed by the experience and service of one of the nation's oldest law firms. Click here to begin the process of protecting your brand name with a federally registered trademark.