December 2018. Budget supermarket chain Lidl has failed to overturn champagne house Veuve Clicquot’s European trademark registration to the colour orange. On 12 November, the Cancellation Division of the European Trademark Office EUIPO ruled that Veuve Clicquot could continue to enjoy European trademark protection for its orange colour.

Lidl also wants orange champagne

Lidl filed its opposition in retaliation for a case brought by Veuve Clicquot against its attempt to sell sparkling wine in a bottle featuring an orange label. Veuve Clicquot claimed that Lidl was trying to piggy-back on its own world-famous champagne and that it was thus infringing its trademark rights to the colour orange, which the champagne house had registered in 2007.

European trademark registration no. 747 949: a valid colour trademark

Invalid colour trademark?

Lidl argued that Veuve Clicquot’s colour trademark was invalid, since colours could only be registered as trademarks throughout Europe if consumers in all EU member states recognised them as such. This was not the case with the orange used by Veuve Clicquot, Lidl said.

Adequate proof

However, the European Trademark Office concluded that Veuve Clicquot had submitted adequate proof that the orange trademark enjoyed widespread recognition throughout Europe in relation to champagne. EUIPO therefore ruled that the colour served as a trademark in its own right and the registration was valid.

T-mobile magenta and UPS brown: examples of unusual EU colour trademarks

Colour trademarks are rare

Colour trademarks are rare in Europe. Very few colours are so well-known that they are recognised as trademarks throughout the European Union. Other examples of European colour trademarks include T-Mobile’s magenta and the shade of brown used by courier company UPS.

The judgement strengthens Veuve Clicquot’s claim to the colour orange in relation to champagne, and makes it easier for the company to ban ‘orange claimants’ from the supermarket shelves.

Bas Kist