Cadbury wins exclusive use of Pantone 2685C purple

Cadbury has won a High Court battle for exclusive use of its signature Pantone 2685C purple, as used in Dairy Milk packaging.

Cadbury Dairy Milk
Cadbury Dairy Milk, using Pantone 2685C purple

The brand, which has used the purple for more than 90 years, has been locked in a legal battle with rival chocolate brand Nestlé for the last four years over the use of the colour.

Kraft-owned branded Cadbury had won a trademark ruling last December over the right to use the colour exclusively for chocolate bar and drink packaging. This was challenged by Nestlé, which claimed the colours could not be used as trademarks.

Nestlé’s appeal was overturned yesterday in the High Court, where it was ruled that the colour has been distinctive of Cadbury for milk chocolate since 1914.

A Cadbury spokesman says, ‘We welcome the decision of the High Court which allows us to register as a Trade Mark and protect our famous Colour Purple across a range of milk chocolate products.

‘Our Colour Purple has been linked with Cadbury for more than a century and the British public have grown up understanding its link with our chocolate.’

The trademark applies to milk chocolate bars and drinks only.

Hide Comments (19)Show Comments (19)
  • Alexander Edwards November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Surely this is complete madness.
    Ok the company have a right to protect their brand, but exclusive use of a colour?

  • Daniel Millroy November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I can’t believe this. This is such a stupid idea to exclusively trademark a colour. This legislation will just cause more issues further down the line when banks, cellular networks and other large companies try to do the same thing. Imagine these large companies fighting for red, green, blue.

  • Ben Farrell November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Don’t other companies already do this? Tiffany Blue for example? I don’t really see the problem; if you’re designing a competitor product, surely you would completely avoid any colour that resembles Cadbury anyway… This simply means a design can’t actively rip off Cadbury.

  • Simon Stanes November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This isn’t a free for all – bear in mind that Cadbury’s registration is limited to their specific goods and that they had to prove that they had been using the colour exclusively for years before the registration was granted. You cannot just pitch up and register any colour without a significant reputation attached to it. No need to panic!

  • Sakarias Sjögren November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Oh dear. Alex and Daniel didn’t read the article, or at least ignored the final line:

    “The trademark applies to milk chocolate bars and drinks only”. They’ve not got exclusivity on the colour outside of that sphere. It seems perfectly reasonably to trademark a strong and historic association with that colour and chocolate products.

    And breathe…

  • lyndsay smith November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I really don’t see what the deal is, Harrods have exclusive use of green, Selfridges have exclusive use of yellow and as Ben says Tiffany has a blue. Having an identity as a brand whether it is a logo or a colour is important and all should be safe guarded under a trademark.

  • Ed Muir November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It is pretty much standard practice for a company to gain rights for their own specific brand guidelines. Like what Simon and Sakarias have mentioned. IBM also have their blue, microsoft have their flag colours but it isn’t set in stone. They have a certain length time of how long they can possess the itemed lease of the trademark and companies can rebrand at any point but Cadbury couldn’t do that, people associate instantly that colour from a distance.

    Nestle are a younger brand, they did not really have any ground to stand on apart from they’re a confectionary company and were set on to buying out commerical territory.

    Congrats to Cadbury’s I say. =]

  • KAM REHAL November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think this is a little hypocritical, Cadbury did not ‘invent’ the colour purple 2685C, they are merely allowed to use it thanks to the hardwork of those lovely Pantone peeps. I agree that use of a specific colour can strengthen a brand and increase it’s identification in the consumer mind, but exclusive use is a little too far. Could I take the same line and demand exclusive rights to use a particular typeface, even though I have not designed it myself?

  • Sue Burnett November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Kam: Cadbury’s have been using that particular shade of purple since 1914. Pantone didn’t ‘invent’ purple or any other colour; what they did was codify colours in the 1950s to make printing more consistent. So only after that would the Cadbury purple have been identified as correlating to the Pantone 2685C purple.

    As the article makes clear, Cadbury does not ‘own’ the colour purple exclusively and unconditionally, they just have the right to use that particular colour for their chocolate bars and drinks without others trying to rip of their branding.

    Re your last point, you could indeed demand exclusive rights to a typeface that you haven’t designed yourself if you have a relevant contract with the designer (which you would usually be expected to pay for).

  • Mark Quire November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    @ Kam Rehal; Cadbury’s have not been granted exclusive use of any colour. They have been granted protection of the use of Pantone 2685C purple as part of their trade dress within specific industry sectors.

  • Simon Stanes November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Food for thought though… UK Trade Marks Act provides protection for similar marks, providing there is a likelihood of confusion… so exactly which shades of purple do Design Week readers think are confusing with Pantone 2685C purple? Where do you stand on mauve?!

  • James Macinnes November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I’m not sure what the problem is. Colour trademarking has been around for years. If I remember correctly Dyno-Rod trademarked their shade of day-glo orange about fifteen years ago.

  • Sunita Yeomans November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Relax – there are plenty more purples to choose from.

    Pantone 267 is very similar. Let’s hope that Nestle use it and Cadbury sue them.

    That’s when the debate will get really interesting.

  • James Kelly November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    What’s to stop any company, Nestle or whoever, going a shade lighter or darker? I mean the next number up or down in Pantone can’t look that dissimilar to 2685? Agree with the point mentioned that a rival chocolate company should be trying everything but looking the same.

  • Paul Wilson November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    So I guess people will just have to use 2685M then : )

  • Robby Ralston November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Absurd! And dangerous!

  • sdfsdf sdfsadfs November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This is a disgrace! What is the harm? The harm is that it is a colour!!
    I don’t care that your stupid brand of chocolate uses that colour, anyone should be able to… Chocolate brand or not.
    It is just a colour – something not created by a company, it was created by nature – not you or anyone and it should not be able to be patented.

  • Kevin Russell November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Old news… Factoid: After their Black album, Spinal Tap have exclusive rights to Pantone Black C – technically it’s illegal to use it in any form. It’s basically the darkest shade of black ever invented.

    “It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black. “

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  • […] with Nestle U.K., which seeks to use a similar color. Though Cadbury won the original case in High Court, the ruling was later overturned—and the war rages […]

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