Intellectual property (IP) represents the property of your mind or intellect. It can be an invention, trade mark, logo, original design or the practical application of a good idea. In business terms, this means your proprietary knowledge – a key component of success in business today. IP is often what helps consumers to recognise your business; recently some businesses have even gone so far as to successfully trademark certain colours as their own intellectual property for a particular product category.
Mars Australia, the owner of Whiskas cat food, recently obtained the exclusive right of use over the colour ‘Whiskas Purple’ in regards to the branding and packaging of cat food products. The Federal Court of Australia determined that ‘Whiskas Purple’ was indeed invented for the brand identity of Whiskas and through extensive use had become well associated to the brand itself.
The Trade Marks Act 1995 made it possible to register a colour as a trade mark for a particular product category, although not many businesses have been successful since it is difficult to establish that colour alone distinguishes your brand from others. Another example is that of ‘Cadbury Purple’, where the chocolate company was able to successfully trademark their particular dark purple for use in the confectionary trade.
Some requirements in trade marking a colour include:
• The colour is a specific shade and not described in general terms; for example ‘purple’ is too broad as opposed to ‘Whiskas Purple’,
• The colour alone is enough to distinguish the brand,
• There must be proof of use or intended use of the colour that distinguishes the good or service.
In the case of Whiskas, they were able to make this distinction by employing the colour extensively in packaging and marketing, demonstrating that the colour created a stronger brand identity.
For a majority of businesses, a great percentage of their appeal and success is related to their distinctive business name, logo, product or service offering. It takes years to develop a business and the recognition of a brand. The only way to ensure that the reward of those years of hard work remain with your business for years to come is to protect them.
If you believe there is a recognisable element of your brand you would like to protect, please submit an online enquiry. Here at The Quinn Group our experienced team of Lawyers can assist with all of your intellectual property needs; call us on 1300 QUINNS.