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).