07. May 15

Trademark law: Financial institutions fight over use of colour red

Two large credit institutions are fighting over the use of a particular colour because colours have a significant and memorable effect on consumers.

GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London - www.grprainer.com/en conclude: Colours evoke associations in people. This is not simply about the green outdoors, blue skies or yellow sun. It also specifically concerns products that are automatically associated with particular colours. That is why so-called colour marks play a major role in commerce; colours conjure up associations with particular products, producers or service providers in the minds of customers.

This also explains why two financial institutions are fighting over the use of the colour red HKS 13. This was registered as a colour mark at the German Patent Office by one of the two financial institutions as early as 2007, but the other bank also features this red tone in its lettering. There has since been a dispute over the use of this colour, which has even gone on to occupy the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the German Federal Patent Court. The crux of this issue is whether consumers do in fact predominantly associate the aforementioned colour with a particular financial institution. The outcome of the dispute remains open.

Yet the legal battle also demonstrates the great importance a so-called colour mark can have for a business. In a similar case, the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) forbid the defendant from using the registered colour mark in a dispute over a particular shade of yellow (Az.: I ZR 228/12).

Trademarks, including colour marks, create a high recognition value and are therefore of considerable value to businesses. The more well-known a trademark is, the higher its estimated value. For this reason, it is important to have trademarks registered so that third parties do not profit from their success. The territorial scope of a trademark is also significant. It is particularly important for businesses that operate internationally to extend this territorial scope beyond national boundaries. If trademark rights are infringed, claims for damages can be asserted.

However, entering a trademark into the register must to be well prepared and cannot infringe third party rights. Companies concerned can turn to lawyers who are competent in the field of trademark law for support.

For more informations: http://www.grprainer.com/en/legal-advice/intellectual-property-law-and-trademark-law/trademark-law.html

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