In keeping with our colorful theme this week, we thought we’d discuss a color that is more conventionally associated with Halloween — orange!

In an increasingly visual world, trademarks and service marks may not be enough to protect the full extent of your brand. Brands are starting to customize more and more of their consumer experience in order to differentiate themselves. One way to do this is to determine a distinct color that you will use moving forward to set your brand apart. For this blog post, we’re going to use “LegalForce Orange” as our color, and explain to you how the color mark process works.

The first step is to establish use and distinctiveness in the marketplace. A color mark is never inherently distinctive, so you will need to show acquired distinctiveness first before it may register. Unlike regular trademarks or service marks, which you can file with an intent to use, we do not recommend filing color marks until they are in use and distinctive. This will save you time and money in the long run, and give you an opportunity to make sure that the color will work for you in your marketing campaigns and add value to the brand.

In our case, we use the LegalForce orange to highlight important parts of our brand. The logo features an orange L and F,  the buttons and hyperlinks on our website are often in orange, the header uses orange font, and our office uses an orange motif, all to create use and distinctiveness.


Our front office decorated for halloween, with the orange featured on the walls and decals

Once you determine that color and have established use and distinctiveness in the marketplace, it will be time to file for your color mark. Color marks are like trademarks, but they are for one or several colors that act as a brand indicator and do not serve a functional purpose. This would mean that, for example, emergency services can’t claim red as red serves the function of alerting others. In our case, orange does not serve a function in representing legal services, so we should be good to go.


While inviting, the orange color doesn’t serve a particular legal purpose

In filing the application with the USPTO, you’ll want to file just a jpeg of the exact color or colors you are using. Be sure you use the specific shade of the color. Don’t have it on an object or in a logo at that stage; that changes the application. We would file using an image like the one below:


Then you’ll want to list the date you started using the color, and a specimen where the color is featured as part of your branding. This is where we would show the LegalForce website, our offices, the decals we use, and even our business cards, all of which feature that bright orange color.


The front and back of our business cards


Our conference room, featuring orange chairs and an orange decal on the wall

Filing for any trademark can be a complicated, legal process, so hiring legal assistance can be a huge help. A trademark attorney can help you file the necessary paperwork and will counsel you on the best way to make sure the USPTO knows that color is yours.

Devan Orr is an Associate Trademark Attorney at LegalForce RAPC. She specializes in trademark filing and registration. Outside of work, she loves traveling, reading, and hiking.

Disclaimer – No Legal Advice:  The information and content available on this site is offered only for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.  Posts are for educational purposes only as to provide general understanding and general information of the law, not provide specific advice.  Blog posts should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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