Sorry Cadbury: a company can’t own a colour
As Cadbury trademarks ‘that’ shade of purple, I think we need to curb what companies are allowed to own…
There’s a particular shade of purple that I like. It’s hard to describe a colour, so I’ll call it ‘Cadbury purple’. You’ll know what I mean straight away; it’s the colour of the chocolate wrappers and the tins of sweets we all stockpile at Christmas.
It’s actually called ‘Pantone 2685’ and now, after almost eight years of legal wrangling, Cadbury owns the copyright.
It can no longer be used as the predominant colour on most chocolate-based goods, although the chocolate giant can’t stop it being used on other products.
It doesn’t need to own the rights to the colour!
This is crazy. Yes, most of us associate it with Cadbury (well, Cadbury and those Nestle Quality Street chocs), but that’s down to good branding. It shouldn’t mean the business owns it.
Cadbury issued a statement saying: “Our colour purple has been linked with Cadbury for more than a century and the British public have grown up understanding its link with our chocolate.”
Yes, yes we have. But isn’t that understanding enough? If a rival chocolatier copied a Cadbury wrapper in a way that could mislead customers, there would be a legal case to answer. It doesn’t need to own the rights to the colour!
What next? Will McDonalds try to copyright red and yellow (or maybe terrifying clowns)?
Can you really, honestly, own a specific wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum? Doesn’t that sound like some crazy dystopian future?
What next? Will McDonalds try to copyright red and yellow (or maybe terrifying clowns)? Christian Louboutin has already succeeded in trademarking its distinctive red soles. Other shoe designers can only do so if the entire shoe is red.
And it’s not just colours, just look at some of the other unbelievable things that have been trademarked in recent years. As part of the Olympic branding, businesses were prevented from using the words ‘London 2012’ and, even more oddly, ‘2012’.
Isn’t it time to clamp down on what else can belong to corporations?
Just last month it emerged that OFS Group, an intellectual property firm, was selling the rights to the phrase ‘Man of the Match’, after registering the trademark back in 2002. How can such a widely-used phrase belong to a company?
Even more bizarrely, Paris Hilton has bought the rights to the phrase ‘that’s hot’. And don’t even get me started on the companies buying patents for certain genes.
We already live in a world where the song ‘Happy Birthday’ is under copyright until 2030. Isn’t it time to clamp down on what else can belong to corporations?
- Felicity Hannah is a personal finance journalist living in the north of England.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS CADBURY WITHIN ITS RIGHTS TO PROTECT ITS BRANDING OR DO WE RISK HANDING TOO MUCH POWER TO CORPORATIONS?LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW OR USING #SOCIALVOICES ON TWITTER
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