Trademarked "Tiffany Blue" liberated by artist in new paint shade: Tiff

Originally published at: Trademarked "Tiffany Blue" liberated by artist in new paint shade: Tiff | Boing Boing


Black is not a colour!

Ask any Goth.

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Everyone needs to start wearing special glasses to weed out copyright colour waves, to avoid accidentally downloading unauthorized colours to our retina.

But Catch-22, would making the filters be in violation of the copyright?


A DRM system for light might help with that. /made myself a sad


From the Tiff Blue site:

*Note: By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this material will not make it’s way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.


Black is not a colour! Ask any Goth.

Yup. It is a way of life.


Trademark law works differently than patent law or copyright law. A “trade mark” (such as a logo, tagline, jingle or distinctive pattern) is meant to help consumers correctly identify a product or service with the maker or service provider.

So I can’t put a Nike swoosh on my off-brand sneakers because a reasonable person might assume those sneakers were made by Nike. But I can put a Nike swoosh on the cover of a non-fiction book about labor abuses in the athletic apparel industry.

In this case I have a hard time imagining how one would successfully enforce a trademark claim over a specific range of the electromagnetic spectrum. I guess they’d have to convince a court that consumers were likely to think anything painted that shade of blue was associated with their business?


I mean - it’s Pantone 1837. Love the color? Go nuts. If you are selling a commercial product, you can use it on most things. I think the trade mark is for boxes and bags.


Didn’t you see that episode of Better Call Saul?



This comment makes sense to me, in a way the original post and the linked page do not. Is this a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the ludicrous folly of (some aspects of) our intellectual-property law? Semple hasn’t actually set anything free, has he? He’s just making fun of Tiffany, right? Good for him!

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This is 2021, when social commentary is considered “art”.

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You know I’m actually curious about that myself. I just assumed what they restrict are things like the IP for the process that makes a pigment or the concentration of specific pigments in formulas? But I have no idea how they’d try to argue that, like, a good color match by a different process is their color. Maybe just the constant litigation discourages its use?

*sorry I keep adding to my questions here.

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Fwiw, performance and social commentary through art have both literally always been a part of the arts in pretty much any culture of humans on some level.

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I think proprietary manufacturing processes would fall under patent law, not trademark law.

The “trademark” thing really just means you can’t use the color in a specific context that would lead a reasonable person to falsely believe something was a Tiffany product.

I did a stint at Mattel once when their legal team was putting together a C&D against another toy manufacturer selling die cast cars in similar-looking packaging. So we went to the warehouse and pulled Hot Wheels playsets going back several decades that all used the same distinctive blue to show established brand identity.

Mattel’s lawyers weren’t claiming sole ownership of that color blue, they were just claiming that using it prominently in that context constituted a violation of their brand trademark.


I don’t think trademarking colors is necessarily ludicrous folly. We associate many brands by color alone. But, those trademarks have a very limited scope. You can use Tiffany teal as an accent for shoes, for example. Put them in the same color box - maybe then you would run into trouble.

But no, he didn’t really “free” anything. Nothing is stopping people from mixing up a Tiffany Teal (blue) on their own. This is more or less marketing outrage, or “sticking it to the man!”


Great example of trademarked color usage.


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There have been real court cases over this- companies claim that a particular colour is part of their trademark:


Actually saw someone taking a photo of the painting?!

Yeah but as I related with my own experience with Mattel they can’t claim ownership of the hue itself, they can just assert use in specific contexts as part of a trademark.

So Mattel didn’t claim that nobody else could paint anything their trademark Hot Wheels blue, just that no one else could sell die cast cars in packaging of the same color. In your Cadbury example they weren’t claiming ownership of the color purple, but claimed (unsuccessfully) that wrapping chocolates in that specific color of foil violated their trademark.

So it seems pretty unlikely that Tiffany could stop anyone from using this paint color unless that person used it to package luxury goods in a way that might mislead a reasonable person to think they were Tiffany products.


International Klein Blue was not trademarked though. Yves Klein did lay the groundwork for a patent by depositing a Soleau envelope to claim priority but he did not follow through.