Friday, September 26, 2008

Copyrighted colour?

I was waiting in the queue at my local delivery office today (picking up a package of printer ink cartiridges - they run out fast) and reading all the posters on the wall. I find myself unable not to read something if its in front of me and I have nothing else to do.
At the bottom of one poster I found this in small print:

"Royal Mail, the Cruciform and the colour red are registered trademarks of Royal Mail plc."

The colour red? The colour red is owned by Royal Mail? How does that work? Do I have to ask permission before I use a crayon? I'm scared and confused.

6 Comments:

Blogger ogre said...

Just use the color red, and you'll be fine. After all, it's the colour red that's copyrighted.

7:17 pm  
Blogger Stephen Lingwood said...

Be gone with you and your simplified American spellings. We'll have none of that nonsense here.

7:33 pm  
Blogger Robin Edgar said...

That's funny. I always thought that "the Cruciform and the colour red" were registered trademarks of Switzerland, to say nothing of the famous Swiss Army Knife.

8:16 pm  
Blogger Rich said...

A registered trademark isn't the same thing as copyright, or intellectual property of any kind.

Registering a trademark allows you to say "people recognize my brand by this visual quality" in any future court case about people stealing your brand identity.

In other words, if a rival postal service launched and painted its vans and post boxes plain red, the Royal Mail could take them to court and have sufficient evidence that this service was trying to piggyback on the identity of Royal Mail to gain customers.

If you're not a postal service, the trademark on the colour red isn't stopping you from doing anything.

11:55 am  
Blogger Stephen Lingwood said...

Wow, I didn't expect anyone to have an actual proper answer to my ponderings.

1:33 pm  
Anonymous ellenhawley said...

I'm late to the discussion, but hey, what are a few years between friends who've never heard of each other before? Yes, you do need to ask permission before using the red crayon. And the Soviet flag? That's been retroactively sued for copyright violation.

11:41 am  

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