Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Prince's estate pursues trademark on purple

New Jersey fans may love Prince's music as well as the late entertainer's signature style. However, his estate is still fighting with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over an attempt to register a specific shade of purple as a trademark for musical recordings, music videos and entertainment services. Prince's estate is attempting to register Pantone's "Love Symbol #2", a particular shade of purple closely connected to Prince's public persona and musical works. The estate is working with Paisley Park Enterprises, the holding company for Prince's intellectual property rights, in an attempt to register the color as a trademark.

The USPTO said in a letter that so far the application failed to show how the color trademark would be applied to all the different items and services in question, including stage lights, tickets, painted venues, album colors, or website design. It said that different types of uses of the color would be separate marks, requiring separate applications for the office to consider on their own merit. Earlier, another entity issued a preliminary rejection, saying that it may be possible to protect color under trademark law, but it is not clear that the color trademark in question is sufficiently distinctive.

In particular, the examining office noted that consumers don't perceive this shade of purple as indicating an endorsement from Paisley Park or music by Prince. It pointed to other major performers that have purple album colors, including Kanye West, Future, Justin Bieber and Tame Impala. It also noted that consumers are more likely to see the color as a simple design element.

Even in less glamorous realms, intellectual property can be at the core of a company's operations. Business owners can work with an attorney to register trademarks, copyrights and other protections in order to preserve their ideas and unique brands.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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