Trademarking a colour is not unheard of but is notoriously difficult to obtain. And rightly so. Tiffany Blue and Veuve Clicquot Orange both spring to mind but those are specific shades of colours – not the whole colour and certainly not the word itself. Even Cadburys was refused a colour trademark for its famous purple colour that I’m sure many people associate with the chocolate brand (though it would have left the big purple one from the Quality Street in a dubious position.) There isn’t an infinite amount of colours – if people were allowed trademark them willy-nilly, the rest of us would live in a very dreary black and white world. It’s the same principal as trademarking a musical chord (yes, we’re looking at you Metallica), it wouldn’t be long before there were no chords left and the making of music halted in its tracks.
Nonetheless Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie and loungewear retailer favoured by teenage girls the world over, is doing its best to own the colour pink! The company has asked a federal agency in the US to cancel the trademark of an online retailer, thepinkstore.com. The company claim that the trademark ‘The Pink Store’ could confuse consumers into thinking it is connected to Victoria Secret! Victoria’s Secret has used the trademark Victoria’s Secret Pink since 2001. The branding includes an online community, hosted on the lingerie firm’s website, called “Pink Nation”. The line is aimed primarily at university age customers and is now one of the brand’s most popular ranges. Sales of products bearing the Pink brand reportedly exceed $1.5 billion annually
The store’s owner, Rebekah Doolittle, obtained a trademark registration in May 2013 for the name The Pink Store from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. She had founded the online boutique in 2011 which sells a variety of pink coloured products including handbags, children’s toys and cuff links.
Doolittle took to Facebook to air her grievances with a clever little poem directed at the lingerie giant
“My Dear Victoria, The Secret is out, Neither bras nor panties are what pink’s all about! Keep ‘Pink’ on your clothing we don’t really mind. But going after our trademark is rude and unkind. So find in your heart this Valentine’s Day — if you truly ‘Love Pink’ make this mess go away.”
And if the trademark office were to find in Victoria’s Secret’s favour, the ruling would effectively give Victoria Secret a claim on the word pink! Doolittle’s store does not sell underwear or loungewear and the only similarity between the two is the use of the word pink. It’s difficult to see how they could win - a quick look at Doolittle’s online store has us convinced that she isn’t trying to benefit from an association with Victoria’s Secret – she just sells pink things! (A sentiment Wigs And Gowns very much relates to!) Will we be forced to change our website colour? What about Barbie, are they coming after her too? Stay tuned for updates!