How Wimbledon Trademarked its Colors

Wimbledon logo As the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) explains,
A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services.
Although most people think of trademarks as things like words (Coca-Cola) and symbols (the Nike “swoosh” or the McDonald’s golden arches), trademarks can include other things as well. For example, the curvy shape of the original Coca-Cola bottle is protected as a trademark in some countries (though not in others). Sounds, like the roar of the MGM Studios lion, can also be protected as trademarks. Additionally, certain colors can be protected by trademark law when they’re associated with specific products and services. Color marks have been protected in the US since 1995. Some examples include:
  • Red soles for Louboutin shoes
  • Tiffany blue gift boxes
  • Brown UPS trucks and uniforms
  • Orange Fiskars scissors handles
It’s not possible for any company to claim a trademark on a color generally or on all shades of a color. A specific shade can be protected if the public has come to associate it with a specific brand. In the UK, the combination of dark green and purple associated with Wimbledon and the All England Lawn Tennis Club for more than a hundred years has been protected as a registered trademark since 2016. Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and often considered the most prestigious. It’s one of four “grand slam” tournaments – the others being the US Open, the Australian Open, and the French Open. Wimbledon is the only one of the major tournaments still played on grass. At this year’s Wimbledon Tournament, world Novak Djokovic earned his seventh Wimbledon title and Elena Rybakina won her first Grand Slam championship. As CBS Sports noted,
Rybakina's win made her the first woman representing Kazakhstan to win a major tournament. She was born in Russia -- and still lives in Moscow -- but switched her tennis representation to Kazakhstan in 2018 when the nation's tennis federation offered her more support than she found in her home country.
According to the Wimbledon color trademark registration,
The mark is in the form of a stripe consisting of the colour green (Pantone No. 349 C) adjacent to the colour purple (Pantone No. 268 C). The two stripes are of equal proportions and the green stripe is on the left of the purple stripe when presented vertically.
The Club also registered the horizontal version of the color combo. (Pantone is a “universal language of color” used by designers and manufacturers.) The Club also owns marks for the word “Wimbledon” and its crossed-rackets logo. Before the color combination was registered, some pirate ticket websites tried to pass themselves off as the real thing by using those colors. Registering the colors as a trademark gives the Club another tool to use to go after such sites. As in the US, rights in colors as trademarks in the UK are limited only to specific shades of colors. Color trademark applicants also need to show that the public identifies those colors with specific goods or services that the applicant offers.
Categories: Patents