Energy drink company sees red after failing to protect its colours

News Article

Energy drink company, Red Bull, recently lost its battle in the European Courts after it unsuccessfully tried to trademark the colours used on its cans.

The company, which uses a blue and silver diagonal design had sought to protect its use using trademark legislation.

It attempted to persuade the courts that both the colours it used and the way that they appeared on their cans were worthy of intellectual property (IP) protection.

However the General Court held that their attempts at trademark registration were not valid because: “the mere indication of the ratio of the two colours blue and silver” which “allowed for the arrangement of those colours in numerous different combinations” did not “therefore constitute a systematic arrangement associating the colours in a predetermined and uniform way, producing a very different overall impression and preventing consumers from repeating with certainty a purchase experience.”

In other words – the marks were not sufficiently precise.

Luke Morgan, a Partner and Intellectual Property expert with Palmers, said: “Although the courts turned down Red Bull’s trademark application because the colour arrangement was deemed to be insufficiently precise, many other companies have succeeded.

“The European Union Trademark (EUTM) register shows around 90 registrations for either a single colour or a combination of two colours, so Red Bull were not attempting to set any kind of legal precedent here.

“Whether Red Bull’s lawyers will appeal the decision remains to be seen, but the case certainly highlights the fact that IP law is not always clear cut and requires expert legal advice.”

Any company wishing to protect their intellectual property should seek expert legal advice, whether this be a trademark, a registered design, or a patent. For help and advice on all aspects of IP law, please contact us.