« Court Dismisses Glassybaby's Trade Dress Claims with Leave to Amend | Main | Canadian Supreme Court Clarifies Role of Geography in Attacks on Registration »

Robin's Egg Blue: For Tiffany, a Color Mark. For Others, a Fashionable Color

Tiffany’s iconic robin’s egg blue (top) — and Burberry’s new purse

Robin’s egg blue. It’s all over Tiffany. Tiffany even has a registration for its blue box.

Yet, robin’s egg blue isn’t exclusively Tiffany’s. In fact, it appears to be one of this year’s hot colors. I’ve seen it on furniture at Roche Bobois and Macy’s. Last week I came across it again on a Burberry handbag at Nordstrom. (On my way to the men’s department, I swear.)

If robin’s egg blue were used by sellers of low-cost items, this might amount to trademark infringement or dilution. But when used by sellers of luxury items, it paradoxically appears to be ok.

Now, Roche Bobois, Macy’s, and Burberry aren’t using robin’s egg blue on boxes that contain jewelry. But they do sell items that involve jewelry, and Tiffany sells items that involve furniture and handbags. Nor are the colors exactly the same, but they’re close — to my eye, closer than the photos here indicate.

It’s interesting that a color that has become so iconic, so intertwined with the goodwill of one luxury retailer is being used with increasing frequency by other luxury retailers. I’m not saying that Tiffany isn’t enforcing its rights, or the other sellers are trying to pass off their goods as coming from Tiffany. Indeed, Roche Bobois, Macy’s, and Burberry have terrific reputations of their own. I suppose what I’m noticing is simply the intersection between trademarks (where one company uses the color to identify the source of its goods) and aesthetic functionality (where other companies use the color because it’s in fashion).

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (1)

I would not be surprised if Tiffany's takes action regarding these items.
Tiffany's owns this trademark registration for a packaging bag of robin's-egg blue:
And this application for handbags:
June 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErik Pelton

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.