Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Registering a colour as a trademark

As plenty of people have already noticed, governments are increasingly willing to grant monopolies on the use of ideas on bases that seem less and less reasonable. I have recently discovered a claim that scales new heights of absurdity:
Royal Mail, the Cruciform and the colour red are registered Trade Marks of Royal Mail Group plc. Royal Mail Group plc, registered in England and Wales, Number 4138203. Registered office: 148 Old Street, London EC1V 9HQ.
(Inconveniently the number shown is the Companies House registration number for Royal Mail Group PLC, and The UK Patent Office has a less-than-straightforward search interface, so I've not been able to locate the registration itself.)

Permitting the registration of logos, non-generic trade names, even novel smells all make some sense, but an entire colour, and a primary one at that? I assume (and hope) that Royal Mail is simply exaggerating its claim.