Trademark a Color in South Africa
The South African Trade Marks Act specifically provides for the registration of non-conventional trademarks, such as colors. A mark is defined as any sign capable of being represented graphically including, patterns, shapes, configurations, colors or containers for goods. Just like a Brand name or logo, colors can provide an identity and unifying feature for an organization. Color schemes can sometimes be even more useful when identifying a brand such as a sports team, because they are highly distinctive and instantly recognizable, even from a distance.
The term “trademark” should not be confused with ownership of color. Trademarking a color simply gives an organization exclusive rights to use a particular color in its own industry or in most cases for their very specific products.
A non-conventional trademark is a type of trademark which does not belong to any pre-existing trademark category. Non-conventional trademarks are often difficult to register, but fulfills the essential trademark function of uniquely identifying the brand. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights sets down a standardised inclusive legal definition.
Visible signs (colors, shapes, moving images, holograms, positions)
Non-visible signs (sounds, scents, tastes, textures).
When you don’t Trademark a color
Simply by using a color scheme for a long enough time can give you rights to those colors. However, the burden of demonstrating trademark rights in the color scheme during a dispute can potentially be reduced or even eliminated by obtaining a trademark registration.