Reader Susan sent over this tidbit. Apparently she was shopping for knitting needles, and came across a particular needle
, under which was the claim that "the color purple is a trademark of CraftsAmericana Group, Inc."
Susan wanted to know how someone could claim a trademark on the color purple. While a quick search didn't turn up the relevant trademark (I didn't look very hard), I'm guessing that it's quite similar to many other trademarks on colors. I tend to think that almost all "color trademarks" are pretty silly, but the idea is that if you use a color in such a way that your brand is totally identified with it, then perhaps you should have the right to trademark the use of that specific color
in that specific market
. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way. We've discussed in the past T-Mobile's trademark on magenta
, which it used to threaten a news site, and which it tried (but failed) to use again Telia in Denmark
. The problem there was that Telia and T-Mobile don't compete in the same markets... and the magenta was a different shade.
That said, it certainly seems like CraftsAmericana's basic claim here is pretty broad. It doesn't say that the company has trademarked purple in specific markets for specific products, but implies (almost certainly falsely) that it honestly holds a full trademark on "the color purple" and can stop others from using it, even outside of its market. That's the part that I find most troubling. Just the setup of that "warning" seems designed to overly frighten people from using the color purple in perfectly legal ways.