The recent ruling in the High Court giving Cadbury the exclusive right to use the colour purple, or more precisely Pantone 2685C, on the packaging of its milk chocolate products and drinking chocolate proves the power of trade marks.

While the description of a registrable trade mark is most commonly applied to words, designs, letters or numerals, colours can also be registered through their Pantone colour if they are particularly associated with a product or products.

Consequently, Cadbury first applied to register Pantone 2685C as a trade mark in 2004, with it being approved by the Trade Mark Registry in 2008. This decision was challenged by Nestlé, which argued that it was not distinctive enough to be protected.

However, with Cadbury having used the colour for the packaging of its chocolate since 1914, it was able to prove it had gained distinctive character through prolonged usage, enabling the public to associate the firm with Pantone 2685C.

With this decision following on from Christian Louboutin’s defence of the company’s distinctive red soles, it is further proof that businesses should seriously consider registration of their brand names and logos at the earliest opportunity.