Prince of Purple: Prince’s estate does all it can to register a purple trade mark
The late musical icon Prince was someone who defied the stereotypical boundaries of race, music and fashion. Prince’s constant use and musical reference to the colour purple was something that all his fans came to identify him by. Subsequently, when he died, his fans lit purple candles, left purple balloons and wore purple clothing in memory of him. Prince’s association with the colour purple has led Paisley Park (the business entity representing the estate) to file a trade mark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (‘USPTO’) for the colour.
In October 2018, Paisley Park filed a trade mark application after it became aware of a claim by a New Jersey company called Pantone, that it had created a shade of purple called ‘Love Symbol #2. As Prince’s fourteenth studio album was called ‘Love Symbol’, this colour was seen as a direct reference to him.
In the filed trade mark application, Paisley Park identified the shade of the colour purple as “the approximate equivalent of [the] Pantone Matching System colour identified as Love Symbol #2”.
Having reviewed the trade mark application, the USPTO rejected Paisley Parks’ application, as it reasoned that many artists have been associated with or used the colour purple to promote their music or image. Furthermore, the USPTO noted that the colour purple alone could not indicate the source of the goods. As the purpose of a trade mark is to identify the origins of goods or services, the USPTO can be seen to be making a valid point. However, Prince’s estate seems undeterred and have filed a 430 paged submission to the USPTO, providing evidence demonstrating the association of Prince with the colour purple.
The above trade mark matter can be seen as similar to Cadbury’s attempt to register the colour purple (Pantone code 2685). Last month, the UK Intellectual Property Office (‘UKIPO’), invalidated two of Cadbury’s purple trade marks, as the description used was considered ambiguous and too wide-reaching. Nevertheless, Paisley Park may have a chance at being successful with the USPTO, if it can provide sufficient evidence of an association with the purple shade Love Symbol #2.
By Fatima Amedu