August 2018. These days, it’s almost impossible to claim a single colour as a trademark. It only works for a handful of highly distinctive colours, such as T-mobile’s magenta or Milka’s lilac. As far as that goes, the Dow Chemical Company did everything by the book, securing itself a valid Benelux trademark registration to a particular light blue for insulating plates. A nice asset to have, you’d think.

Benelux trademark no. 577439 registered by Dow Chemicals

Don’t overestimate

However, you mustn’t overestimate the scope of protection afforded to your unique colour mark. Dow duly filed an opposition to the application of the word mark PolyBlue (also for insulation material) based on its light blue colour mark. But in the event, both the trademark office and the District Court in The Hague rejected Dow’s argument on the grounds that the colour light blue was not similar to the word PolyBlue to cause a risk of confusion. A ‘blue’ bruise for Dow.