Corporate takeover: Cadbury now owns the colour purple

The chocolate giant has won a high-court showdown with Nestlé for the rights to Pantone 2685C.
Do you think it’s the right decision?

Cadbury Purple

Who owns the colour purple? Yesterday Cadbury’s Dairy Milk won a high-court ruling that they possessed the rights to a shade of it.

After four years of battling Nestlé and its rival Wonka products, Cadbury has been allowed to trademark Pantone 2685C – the creamy purple you associate with Dairy Milk and your glass and a half full. The court ruled that the colour has been distinctively Cadbury’s since 1914, rejecting Nestlé’s claim that you can’t trademark a color. Cadbury is now referring to it as “our famous colour purple”.

A trademark is essentially an order that allows you to protect a brand name, symbol, product, etc. It’s a great way to protect any innovative technology as well as any branding that’s created from any competition. People can get a trademark either on their own or with the help of a Trademark Attorney who knows the law and can help with the process. Easily recognized symbols are important for brand recognition and it would be a shame if another business tried to cash in on that recognition. However, a trademark doesn’t last a lifetime so when trademarks expire, they either need to be reinstated or the symbol, name, or whatever was trademarked is fair game to any other business.

But did the lawyers get it right? Last month, shoe designer Christian Louboutin won a similar battle against Yves Saint Laurent, earning trademark protection for his red-soled heels. Other brands have longstanding colour associations: think Tiffany blue and Coca-Cola red. Should you be able to trademark a colour?