GSK refused colour trademark

GlaxoSmithKlein recently filed for an EU colour trademark for some of their inhalers. However, their application was rejected due to the ambiguity of the description accompanying a photograph of the inhaler.

According to Bristows LLP, the application was for Pantone code 2587C (a dark purple) and Pantone code 2567C (a light purple). However, the description included did not specifically state which colour was to be used on which part of the inhaler, it only declares that a “significant proportion” of it should be a certain colour.

Since the proposed mark was ambiguous in its description, the High Court could not accept its validity since it did not meet the specifications of an EU trademark. An EU mark must be distinct, unambiguous, definitive and consistent.

Colour marks can be extremely useful in defining your brand from competitors in the marketplace. Some well-known brands that have colours trademarked are Christian Louboutin (who has successfully trademarked the red soles of their shoes in a number of countries around the world including the US) and the jewellers Tiffany’s who have a trademark for the colour blue. Confectionary giants Cadbury and Nestle recently battled it out over the colour purple for their chocolate bar wrappers. Cadbury had a trademark from 1995 however, when they tried to apply for the colour purple again in 2004, Nestle filed a notice of opposition and their application was rejected.

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