Brand recognition goes beyond a recognizable logo. The color of product and packaging can be as important and in some cases even more important. Knowing the importance of color, the registered trademark of Owens Corning pink secures the company's use of the color pink in the housing industry.
The “think pink” tag line triggers an association between pink and high-quality insulation among those looking for insulation materials.
The pink color also has instant brand recognition when being installed in the construction of new homes. The color and campaign appear to struck a chord with purchasers as Owens Corning pink insulation commands a higher price than the competitive neutral products.
According to law firm Fish & Richardson here is how Owens Corning paved the way for their color trademark:
The Federal Circuit Paves the Way in Owens Corning
The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the color depletion theory in 1985 when it decided In re Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp., 774 F.2d 1116 (Fed. Cir. 1985). Owens Corning tried to register the color pink for its insulation products. Relying on the color depletion theory, the USPTO refused to register pink as a mark.
On appeal, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board held that, while the overall color of goods can function as a mark, the plaintiff had not demonstrated that pink had acquired November 15, 2009 Vol. 64, No. 21 distinctiveness in connection with insulation products, and therefore upheld the USPTO’s refusal to register the mark. On Owens Corning’s further appeal, the Federal Circuit confirmed that a single color is protectable as a mark, but only if the color does not primarily serve a useful purpose and has acquired distinctiveness in connection with the relevant goods or services. The court held that pink did not serve a useful purpose for insulation products and that the color had acquired distinctiveness in connection with such products.
Owens Corning’s use of pink for its products for nearly 30 years, along with its extensive advertising of pink in connection with such products, was sufficient to show that pink had acquired distinctiveness in connection with insulation products.
Ridiculous! Leave it to a huge corporation to come up with crap like this. So what permissions do I need to paint some of my personal belongings pink without getting sued?
When a company trademarks a color, logo, etc, it is for a very specific use. You are free to paint anything you own pink except your insulation. 🙂
In the case of this specific trademark held by Owens Corning, the term ‘trademark’ is defined as a combination of elements that identifies their product. The purpose of a trademark is to distinguish the pink fiberglass household insulation from someone else’s in the market place.
You can use your pink paint on all your personal belongings your want, even your fiberglass, just as long as you don’t try to sell the pink fiberglass in significant enough quantities to get Owens Corning’s attention.