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High Court rejects BP’s distinctive green (Pantone 348C) as a trademark

Posted by gmarkets on 27 September, 2007

The High Court rejected the petrol giant BP Green’s 16-year battle to register its distinctive green – known as Pantone 348C – as a trademark. Companies that have successfully registered a colour include;

• Commonwealth Bank of Australia for its trademark yellow and black;

• Kraft for the silver on its cheese packaging; and

• Tiffany & Co for the distinctive blue on its jewellery boxes.

But the three High Court judges were not convinced that BP should have a monopoly over the BP shade of green. They suggested BP’s green might be distinctive only in conjunction with the use of its yellow as a subsidiary colour and its starburst symbol. BP had evidence that 85 per cent of people associated the green colour with the BP brand. “If you saw a new service station coloured in green, would you go past that service station at 80 kilometres an hour down the highway and think it was a BP service station? If the answer to that is yes … then BP is entitled to be protected with a registration for the colour,” BP’s legal counsel, David Shavin, said. Shavin denied that green was chosen to indicate environmental friendliness. But Justice Michael Kirby said: “It was a very clever colour to have chosen so many years ago because it is now very much associated with the environmental movement.”, reported The Australian Financial Review, 15/6/2007, p. 3

The Australian Financial Review, 15/6/2007, p. 3

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