what colour’s yours

Orange, the mobile phone services provider, is at odds with the easyGroup, of easyJet fame, over the use of the colour orange. This from bbc news.

Does a company “own” a colour? The issue of names, logos and images is very contentious in the global marketplace. Trademarks mean firms have a right to protect “shapes, sounds or colours if it’s distinctive as part of their business”, according to an IP lawyer interviewed.

This usually means as long as Joe Public can distinguish between the different branding it’s companies are protected. Example is Cadbury’s distinctive purple can’t be used by other chocolate makers, or Heinz with its turquoise colour, Toblerone and triangular chocolate boxes. But it can’t stop, say hat makers from making hats in Cadbury purple.

The issue came about because easyGroup is expanding onto Orange’s turf, with its new easyMobile service. Orange is claiming that if easyMobile uses orange in their branding it will cause confusion among customers and damage its business. Orange has the trademark on the colour registered as Pantone #151.

Hmmm. Can I claim ownership to the colour white please.