The Paris Court of Appeals (June 2004) has decided that a trademark registration for a pantone reference can prohibit third parties from using similar shades of color. The decision follows a case between dairy products manufacturer Candia and competitor Bledina. Candia is the owner of a trademark designating a pantone color (number 212). Bledina had put out a milk packaging containing a similar shade of pink. The First Instance Court found partially in Candia’s favor, and an appeal was filed. The Paris Court decided there was a case of infrigement of Candia’s trademark rights, as this shade of pink was not commonly used in relation to dairy products at the time of Candia’s trademark registration. It therefore appears that owners of color marks are protected also for shades proximates to the pantone color filed. It remains unclear how far from the filed color a competitor should lie in order to avoid infringing. It is questionable whether the French Court’s approach was in line with the ECJ’s approach, which states that color marks should only enjoy narrow protection.
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