Trademark News & Screw-ups Deere wins trademark lawsuit in protection of green and yellow colors

When it comes to trademarking logos, one of the decisions that the brand owner needs to make is whether or not to "claim color as a feature of the trademark." To oversimplify, a logo filed WITHOUT claiming color as a feature protects the shape of the logo in any color. This is typically regarded as a stronger trademark. When color is claimed as a feature of a trademark, the protection is granted not only to the shape of the logo, but also to the colors. Typically, it narrows down the scope of protection of the logo as far as the shape of the logo is concerned. On the other hand, it provides additional protection to the color combination itself, even if the shape of the logo is varied. This is precisely what happened in this case. John Deere's competitor's logo did not look like John Deere's, except it used the same colors. Because John Deere had claimed color as a feature of their trademark, they were able to prevail. The lesson here is: you have to be very strategic in deciding whether or not you want to claim color as a feature of your trademark. Sometimes, it's best to file two separate trademark applications for the same logo—you would claim color as a feature for one application and not claim it for the other one.

The video below features Andrei Mincov's commentary of this article.

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