Brand colors

What company manufacturs and keeps the colors unique to various businesses (e.g. Pepsi blue, Tide orange, Sticky Note yellow, Coke red, and NASCAR colors)? Some time ago this company was featured on a show like 20/20 or Dateline or something else similar. Apparently these companies have rights to their specific colors. Anybody know the name of the company?


And I still can’t figure out why linking to text isn’t working for me.

Are you thinking of Pantone?

I don’t think this is correct.

First of all, what ‘rights’ are you talking about?

Patent - A color can’t be patented, since it is not a useful, non-obvious invention.

Copyright - I don’t think a color could be copyrighted, since it is not a literary work nor an artistic composition. Plus how would you prove ‘originality’ – that no one has used that color previously? As I recall, there are some temples in the Roman City of Pompey that have the Pepsi blue color in them.
Trademark - this is more likely, but a trademark includes the whole artistic design of the logo, the style of the lettering, the colors, etc. It’s trademarked as a whole; you can’t apply that trademark to the individual pieces of it.

Thus Coca Cola has a distinctive calligraphic type font used on their products & in their advertising, but they do not generally try to assert ownership rights to that font. It’s used often (mainly in parodies), without problems. (If you tried to produce a soft drink with that font, then Coke would probably come after you.)

So I don’t see how any company could have legal rights to a specific color on its own.

According to the Wikipedia article on color trademarks, it is possible to trademark a color.

It is possible to trademark a color. John Deere has trademarked the particular shade of green used on its tractors, as well as the “leaping deer” used on it’s logo.

However, the trademark protection on a color is pretty narrow, and other farm manufacturers have painted their machinery green with a spalsh more blue, yellow or black – enough to make it a different color but still close.

Dow has also trademarked not only the *use *of a color in a product, but the *name *of that color - their Styrofoam building productsare called Blue, and are unsurprisingly, blue in color. Or, as Dow says, “the distinctive Blue color.”

And, it can get more specific - part of my employer’s trademark (and also our “trade dress” - consistency in how our logo, colors, name, trademarked service names, etc. are used) is specific Pantone colors such as PMS 123C for use on coated stock, or PMS 123U on uncoated stock. And we’re pretty fussy about it. Our branding guidelines book weighs in at close to ten pounds, and that’s just the quick overview version.