Applying for a Color Trademark

How do you describe color on the trademark application

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So, you’re preparing to file a federal trademark application and you’re concerned because your trademark includes a color or colors. For example, your font is in the color red. How do you describe these colors to guarantee protection?

Should you claim color?

The first question is whether you wish to claim color at all. Sometimes, more flexibility is gained by filing the trademark in black and white. That way you can modify your color scheme later if you wish, and not have to register the newer incarnations of the mark. However, you will not be protecting the colors in that case, only the underlying words and design. If, however, you’re sure you want to include colors in your application, read on.

Describe the color

If you wish to proceed with registration of a trademark that includes colors, the drawing submitted with the application must show the mark in color.  In addition, the application must include: 

  • a claim that the color is a feature of the mark (for example, “The color magenta is claimed as a feature of the mark,” and
  • a statement in the “Description of the Mark” field naming the color and describing where it appears on the mark (often referred to as a “color location” statement – for example, “The mark consists of  the colors purple and red and literal or design elements on which the colors appear, that is a purple crown placed on a on a red velvet pillow.”)

When describing the color, you can use the generic name and if you wish, you can claim a reference to a commercial color identification system such as Pantone. Of course, the examining attorney has the discretion to require that the applicant indicate shades of a color, if necessary to accurately describe the mark.

What about stippling and lining?

You may have viewed trademarks in the USPTO database in which colors in a trademark  application are indicated by special lines or dots referred to a “stippling and lining”. Don’t worry. Stippling and lining are not required for trademark applications filed after November 2, 2003


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