Does someone "own" the color blue?

A few years ago, I heard (by word of mouth) that someone owns the patent to blue (cyan) ink, and actually earns money whenever this color ink is manufactured. Perhaps they control the supply of whatever key ingredient goes into making cyan ink? Has anyone else heard this, and could it be true?

It’s quite possible has patented a manufacturing process that makes a certain shade of blue, but a patent is only grants the patentee an exclusive right to manufacture something for a specific period of times (17 or 20 years depending upon which section of U.S. Patent law it falls under).

Nobody gets an eternal patent.

Somebody could opt to go the trade secret method and just keep such a tight wrap on the way to make a certain color that you would have to buy it from that person, but I can’t imagine that someone else wouldn’t have figured it out already. From my experience, we’ve had blue ink in this world for a LOOOONNNNG time.

I don’t know but judging from all the blue I’ve seen in movies latley I wouldn’t doubt it.
It started with ‘Ghostdog’ (for me). Nearly every door in that movie is blue. I though it was some samuria thing but then I started noticing that almost every movie has a blue wall or door or something, more than chance of course. Last night I watched ‘Something Lies Beneath’ (or something like that) with Harrison Ford and the show was awash in blue. Same with the “I see dead people” movie.
There’s something strange going on with blue - maybe that’s it.

Well the New Zealand Maoris own part of the electromagnetic spectrum (in the UHF frequency I think) as a result of a recent court case. In New Zealand at least it seems there is nothing precluding the ownership of the colour blue outright, not just blue ink.

Sure, some people own certain colors of blue, since they have legal rights to the formula of that pigment. For example, the artist Yves Klein created several colors like “Yves Kline Blue” and owns exclusive rights to those color formulations.

Heh. On an old episode of Off the Hook, they were talking about how the FCC was preparing to auction off “all available electromagnetic frequencies.” So some guy decided he was going to try to buy green. He’d charge royalties on everything from grass to traffic lights (after all, they’re all transmitting on his frequency!)

Two things

Yves Klein didn’t formulate a colour - it is ultramarine. he just called it "international Klein Blue. He did develop a method of application of the pigment which he kept a secret (does anyoune know how he did it?)

If you managed to buy the colour green, you wouldn’t get much money out of the plant kingdom - the reason that plants look green is that they absorb all the other colours and reflect the green back! Still I’m sure there is a lawyer out there who would try to bring a case.

Hmmm… I seem to recall that Kodak yellow was patented, but my search of the internet has not revealed anything. Am I the only one who’s heard this?

It is possible to trademark colors. For example, Sanka Orange (the color of the packaging for Sanka brand coffee, as well as the coffeepots provided for Sanka at restaurants) is (or at least was) trademarked. FTR, Sanka is now subsumed under the Maxwell House division.


IF Kodak could have patented their shade of yellow and Sanka could have patented their shade of orange, THEN Equal would have patented their shade of blue and Sweet 'N Low would have patented their shade of pink.

But that it not what has happened. In fact many cheap saccharins and aspartames deliberately color their packets pink and blue so that consumers will associate them with the more expensive brand. Equal and SwNLo would certainly have patented the colors if they could, and so I therefore suspect that they could not do it.

Which makes me doubt the stories about Kodak and Sanka.

On March 28, 1995, the Supreme Court in Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Products Co., Inc., — S.Ct. —, 1995 WL 128239 (1995),
unanimously ruled that the Lanham Act permits the registration of a trademark that consists, purely and simply, of a color of

So you can’t own it, but you can trademark it.

Several posters mention that some brand colors are trademarked and I assume they are correct.

But there is another layer of protection involved too, namely the difficulty involved in physically creating a duplicate color ink.

You can’t create Kodak yellow, Coke red – or even dollar bill green – using the dozen-or-so basic “ingredient” inks that are used in 99% of color-matching ink recipes; nor can you achieve an exact match using standard four-color process printing (which means, if you want to “do it right” when printing, say, a full color ad flier showing the product and a person using it, you’ve got to run it on a five-color press). Exactly what special pigments they use (those butterfly wings from “Papillion”?) to achieve this uniqueness I can’t say.

As an aside, manufacturers will create special color props of their product – like Coke cans – for TV commercial shoots. The off-color props compensate for the color shift in film/video processing/transmission and the resulting image should (?) match the color you see on the grocer’s shelves.