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Thread: Using the exact colors of a well-known company - a posible breach of copyright?

  1. #1
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    Hi,

    A client has asked me to exactly reproduce the colors of an estbd company for the website that I am building - I just worry that this could be seen as pinching others design ideas?

    Could someone please enlighten me on this.

    Jged

  2. #2
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    maybe it depends on wich country you are // over here (belgium) there's this big telco (belgacom), they licenced a colour (gree-blue-ish) // so a concurrent (english?) cannot use that specific colour .. there was a problem about 2 years ago with another c° that used that specific colour .. // they lost the trail in court

    that's all i can tell you about it /// maybe others know more about it

    keep us informed

    sven

    edit:: maybe it's also interesting to post this in the board room
    [Edited by snuifkip.com on 05-17-2002 at 05:25 AM]

  3. #3
    Old Member gecko2's Avatar
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    I think it would depend a lot on the look of the site, I mean if you looked at the site and you thought it was the other "big" company's site then you would have a problem. Colour schemes shouldn't matter.
    [Edited by gecko2 on 05-20-2002 at 06:26 AM]

  4. #4
    Moderator RazoRmedia's Avatar
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    in my opinion, colours can not / never should be copyrighted. Its wrong.

    Taking a colour is fine whereas adapting an already existing colour scheme (a number of colours) is approaching the grey area of plagerism. Could you be more specific? How close will the designs look if you take the colour scheme ?

    Bruce

  5. #5
    Moderator RazoRmedia's Avatar
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    moved to the boardroom

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by RazoRmedia
    in my opinion, colours can not / never should be copyrighted. Its wrong.
    bruce, true, it's wrong, but it happenend here (to be more specific a combination)
    -----
    the story
    belgacom mobile used a dolphin & the blue-green-isch colour // their main opponent Mobistar used in a campaign a dolphin + dolphin sounds to show that their rates are understandable and the Belgacom mobile rates aren't .... ///
    since 2 years the concept of "comparable advertising" is legal in Belgium
    you can compare your product with similar products from others, you can name the products & the opponent, you can't however put them in bad daylight.
    -------------
    so i think it's a thin line where you are at the moment Jged

    sven

  7. #7
    Monkey Wrangler monsterfx's Avatar
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    I don't know the legal issues, but I think there is some definite ethical issues to consider. Primarily, using a another's color scheme smacks of plagarism as RazorMedia said. Also, how do you differentiate yourself from everyone else if you look just like them?

    I would probably try to convince my client that it's OK to be inspired by a design, but another thing to rip it off. But then that's easy to say when it isn't your client...


    -monster.

  8. #8
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Sure, if you use the specific color to create a blank package/logo shape of your market opponent and then make a commercial featuring this package which (readily identifiable)is then slandered/libeled, yeah, that's certainly going beyong the limits of comparison commercials (this technique's been in the US for decades).

    But as to using the same color scheme for a completely separate, original product or service, there's no way that could be considered an infringement. What happens if I like red and white? - Does that mean I owe some payment to the Red Cross? The Polish national football team? Ludicrous. (Do you like how I made a World Cup tie-in there? V. timely).

    When you get down to it, are there any original color cominations left to work with? I'm guessing not. I think the customer has simply seen something they like and wants to work with it. Nothing wrong there, as far as I'm concerned.

    Now what's up with the proliferation of blue and orange sites, etc?? Riddle me that, guys and girls. I know that they're opposites on the color wheel and opposites are supposed to match, but when did it become so 'cool'?

  9. #9
    Legally I dont think any company can copyright a color scheme, and I dont think you should have any problems if your clients business is in a different market than that of the companies he's wanting to take the color scheme from. This would lead me to believe that "Hey, he just likes the asthetic look and feel of it." However, If the company is in his same market or worse a competitor, then you may want to make sure that his reason for doing this isn't to try and trick the consumers into thinking they are something they are not. In doing this you could run into copyright infringment as well as the obvious ethical issues.

    Firehawk

  10. #10
    they call me the_jump... le_saut's Avatar
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    #f2f5f7™ (patent pending)

    silver©

    155,155,203®


    doesn't really work in HTML code does it?

  11. #11
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    I personally think that the idea of copyrighting colours is just stupid. That's just me though, obviously other company's disagree. As for taking the colours from other sites, I think that as long as your not making your site look the same it should be fine. Like how many websites are out there with the colour scheme of black and white, yet they don't look the same. As long as you keep it looking different, which shouldn't be hard to do, I don't think you'll run into problems.

  12. #12
    Ryan Kallok: Kallok Studios kallok's Avatar
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    Copyrighting colors is stupid....

    Imangine this: "#ffffff (C) Ryan Kallok"

    LMFAO

  13. #13
    Flash Git choclate vanilla's Avatar
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    Personally I think the issue would come down to did your clients company get any advantage from customers thinking they were the other company.

    For example a car dealers using the logo MGM got away with doing it because the COURT said that there was no way someone might get confused between which company was which.

  14. #14
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    It revolves around whether your whole intent is to mislead your audience..

    Every "knock off" generic softdrink out there is patterned off of it's brand equivilant (Pepsi, Coke, etc..) their color schemes are close..just not exactly the same.

    However, take IBM's bluescreen style of ads...if you copied the color and the letterbox style of advertising..they would come after you for deceptive advertising practices.

    Basically if they can prove your use of the colors were in such a way to confuse the two companies..they would have a claim.




  15. #15
    they call me the_jump... le_saut's Avatar
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    An interesting side note to this is that large 'evil' corporations are now buying anti-theircompany domain names to avoid having to litigate and buy them off sitters....

    l_s

  16. #16
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    I heard State Farm purchased something like 30+ anti-state farm domains in a magazine article a while back.


  17. #17
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    The color of an item can also function as a trademark. The Supreme Court held in the 1995 case of Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Products Co., 115 S.Ct. 1300 (1995) that the green-gold color of a dry cleaning press pad can function as a trademark. Before this decision, the argument was often made that color alone could not be considered a trademark, since granting trademark status to colors would soon lead to the depletion of the number of colors available for an object. The Court in Qualitex rejected arguments based on this depletion theory, reasoning that alternative colors would usually be available for competitors. In those cases where alternative colors were not available, courts could deny trademark protection in those circumstances where color depletion may actually occur.

    In order for a color to be considered a trademark, the owner must show that secondary meaning has been developed for the color. In addition, a color cannot be a trademark if the color is functional in nature. For example, one court has held that the color black serves a functional purpose when used on outboard boat motors, since the color black matches all other boat colors and also makes the motor appear smaller. A second court, however, has stated that it is possible for a color to function as a trademark even if the color contributes to the utilitarian or aesthetic function of a product. A second example of a color mark is the color pink for Owens-Corning's fiberglass insulation.


    and here's the link:
    http://www.bitlaw.com/trademark/devices.html#color
    Any Questions?

    Orkar - pulling the crud out of the mud

  18. #18
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    If you could trademark colors, imagine the world in 20 years time, all the colors would be taken and no new companies would be allowed to start beacuase putting color on their products would be illegal

  19. #19
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    you cant

    you cant copyright a color scheme, that would be like copyrighting the color of my ass, you just cant do it

  20. #20

    unfortunately....

    to all of those (us, we?) that believe that you cannot copy protect a color scheme...you are mistaken. We could bounce back and forth, citing chapter and verse from several federal cases and laws...but let me offer the most obvious corroboration.

    If you happen to live in the United States, and you happen to get US Mail from the United States Post Office, AND...(sheesh) they happen to have one of those little 'vans' of theirs in the area (you know, the one with the red, white and blue stripe with the eagle on the side...?)
    READ THE FINE PRINT.

    both the logo of the eagle AND the red, white and blue color scheme (those specific shades and order) are copyrighted by the US Postal Service.

    do i dig it? heck, i dont even understand it...but they have a legally defensible claim in US and international courts.

    The question of 'can you' is obviously moot. The issue should now officially be 'should you'...yes?

    ~kr0m3

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