What is a color claim in trademark application?
Color is an issue only when dealing with design marks, such as logos, that have elements of graphic design. If you are seeking to register wording without any stylization or design elements, you should apply for the wording in standard character format (i.e., typed letters and certain symbols). Color is not an issue in trademark applications for word marks.
If you are filing a design mark application, you need to decide whether or not to apply for the trademark in color. If so, you must include a color claim that specifies the exact colors in the mark. Your drawing must also be uploaded in color.
How will a color trademark registration limit your use?
If your mark is registered in color, you will not be able to change colors when using the mark to sell your goods or services. In other words, a registered trademark in color requires that you use the exact same design mark with the same colors to maintain your registration. If you change any colors, you may need to file a new trademark application.
Is a black-and-white trademark registration broader?
Yes, registering a design mark in black-and-white without a color claim (“grayscale”) generally provides broader rights and more flexibility in usage. Without a color claim, the trademark owner is free to use any colors or no colors at all to support the registration.
The absence of color in a trademark registration provides would-be infringers with fewer arguments in defending against infringement. For example, those who use a confusingly similar logo would not be able to argue that they use different colors than those in the registration.
When it makes sense to register a trademark with colors
Colors can play an important role in distinguishing your products from others. If you believe that the colors in your mark are vital to your brand and you wish to stop others from using similar colors, then it may make sense to include a color claim in your trademark application. In most cases, a design mark may be sufficiently protected with a registration in black-and-white.
One trademark strategy for broader rights may involve filing multiple trademark applications:
- a design mark application in grayscale (no color claim);
- a design mark application with a color claim; and
- a word mark application for the wording in standard character format.
This strategy provides you with multiple weapons in your arsenal to enforce against trademark infringement.