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But which blue?

April 4, 2010

Did you know that you can trademark a color???? Strange, but true…

ANZ (www.anz.com.au), one of Australia’s ‘Big 4’ banks, has had a trademark statement about its blue color for some time and it’s always bothered me. Why? Because I can’t see how you can trademark a color that’s in the public domain (i.e. one you haven’t had created especially for you/your company), and I can’t figure out exactly WHICH blue ANZ has trademarked! Their website contains many solid blues and blue gradients, and the trademark statement at the bottom of their web pages doesn’t tell us which blue they’re referring to.

Here’s a sample from the bottom of the home page (screen capture taken 30 March 2010), where there are at least four blues displayed (I’ve added callouts for the hex values of each); add in the variations in the gradients, the link text, the anti-aliasing around the text on the graphics etc. and there are plenty more blues to choose from — so which one have they trademarked?:

Which blue does ANZ 'own'??

I can understand how and why a company can trademark a logo, and a set of elements that make up a logo (color, font/typeface, shape etc.), but a color all by itself? That’s just weird.

See also:

[Links last checked March 2010]

One comment

  1. I agree, it is strange that a colour can be copyrighted. However, perhaps the copyright is contextual and any other bank using the same colour would be causing an infringement. Apple Computer were famously sued by Apple Records (publisher of the Beatles) because of the similarity of their logo. Apple were finally allowed to continue using their original logo on the condition that they would never enter the music industry. Then along came iPods, iTunes and another lawsuit…
    On the subject of copyrighting something weird, I heard that Harley-Davidson copyrighted the sound their engines make!



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