Green With Envy: Trade-marking Colours in Canada

item_3224.jpgWant to trade-mark the colour green? Just ask the makers of painter’s tape for some pointers.

They applied (several times) to register the colour GREEN as a trade-mark for their well-known green painter’s tape, based on use in Canada since 1993. 3M and others opposed the latest application, arguing that the trade-mark was not distinctive since many competitors also sold green tape products.

In the recent decision in 3M Company v. Tape Specialities Limited, 70 C.P.R. (4th) 138 (T.M.O.B.), the Canadian Trade-marks Opposition Board decided that the colour green was not distinctive of the applicant, and the application was refused (Trademark: COLOUR GREEN #3, Refused – Section 38(8), 1062931 )

Colour can be the subject of a trade-mark registration in Canada, but contrary to popular misconceptions, it does not provide the owner with a monopoly over the colour itself, just the colour as applied to a particular product – for example, Wedgwood was able to register the colour blue (specifically Pantone #658), as applied to boxes containing clocks (Trademark: Colour Blue design, Registered, 1166661, TMA689472 ). They claim use in Canada since 1800, making this arguably one of Canada’s oldest colour trade-marks (though I question whether Pantone #658 was around in the year 1800… but only lawyers quibble about such details.)

Calgary – 11:45 MST

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