16 July 2014 — BRIEF: BP this month lost a legal fight to trademark a shade of the colour green in Australia. TimeBase reports the multinational petroleum giant first attempted to obtain exclusive rights to the colour as a corporate identifier back in 1991, an attempt that was blocked by Woolworths, which also wears green as its corporate badge.
In 2005, BP succeeded, basing their argument on a survey carried out at a shopping centre by a Monash University researcher, which showed that 47 per cent of people shown a picture of a service station coloured green identified it as a BP.
This decision was overturned in 2010, again due to opposition from Woolworths.
BP then re-applied with different wording, limiting the trademark to the colour green Pantone shade 348C. The latest decision by a delegate of the Registrar of Trade Marks rejected BP’s amended application.
As TimeBase reported, the delegate cited the original Finkelstein J decision, which said:
“Most objects have to be some colour. So merely applying a colour to a product will not act as an identifier for that product. In deciding whether colour functions as a trade mark it is necessary to determine whether the trader has used the colour in a way that informs the public that the product emanates from a particular source.”
The delegate found that BP’s change from claiming “green” generally to a specific shade of the colour green (Pantone shade 348C) made “little (if any) difference to the original determination”.
BP has succeeded in trademarking the colour in the UK.