If youâ€™re following this blog, you know I initiated a series of blogs about color in branding.
Now, color has made the business section of the Denver Post.
Al Lewis of the Denver Post (www.denverpostbloghouse.com/lewis) has written about an upcoming case which should interest everyone involved in branding.
It seems that the giant lawn and garden products company, Scotts Miracle-Gro doesnâ€™t want a competitor to use green in their trade dress. Theyâ€™re suing TerraCycle to cease and desist from using green and yellow in their packaging and â€œconfusing the marketâ€ with similar packaging to Miracle-Gro.
The packaging is not at all similar to my eyes.
Iâ€™d download pictures of the respective packages and put them side-by-side except the TerraCycle has used a â€œgimmickâ€ to demonstrate their environmentally-friendly packaging â€“ used, recycled plastic pop bottles – and they show itâ€™s origin by morphing the TerrCycle label into a pop bottle as you â€œmouse overâ€. Anyway, here are the corporate urls of each so you can make your own comparisons.
The point is there is no similarity in type, design, shape or name of the competing products. The only similarity is the color combinations. So can Scotts â€œownâ€ those generic colors. Iâ€™m pretty sure the Pantone numbers are not identical, and they arenâ€™t used in the same proportions.
Now to be as forthcoming as I can, thereâ€™s another issue in Scottâ€™s suite â€“ they take issue with the TerraCycle claim that their Worm Poop (yes, thatâ€™s what they call their product, probably because of its main ingredient) is superior to the â€œleading synthetic plant foodâ€. Thatâ€™s another debate.
Al quotes Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, who thinks â€œthis is more about the fact that weâ€™re taking shelf space at Home Depot and Wal-Martâ€¦than customer confusionâ€.
I agree. So does a trademark expert and law professor Wendy Seltzer who Al quotes as saying, â€œNo one is allowed to monopolize necessary colors.â€Â SheÂ contributes toÂ an informative intellectual properties blog branders should find valuable at
Although the article didnâ€™t define â€œnecessary colorsâ€, I suspect that means primary, secondary and tertiary colors; the web-safe colors of the internet and the pms colors of the Pantone palettes.
Iâ€™ll just bet the packaging issue between TerraCycle and Scotts will never come to trial. At least I hope not.