Thursday, November 1, 2018
Prince reportedly loved the color purple, referring to it as his favorite color and naming his most famous album Purple Rain. Now, the late singer's company, overseen by his estate, has filed an application earlier this month with the US Patent and Trademark Office to stake ownership in the color that he cherished so much. Specifically, the estate wants to hold exclusive rights to shades near Love Symbol #2, the paint color Pantone created last year in memory of Prince.
But can a person or company own a color? In certain ways it is possible, especially within a particular industry. In 2012, a court in the US allowed shoemaker Christian Louboutin to trademark red soles, after the company sued Yves Saint Laurent over a YSL line that had a similar look. The court found that the soles were distinctive enough that other shoes could not have the same look without drawing a comparison.
Prince's estate has been particularly busy, filing dozens of similar petitions and applications to monetize the icon's image. Throughout his career, Prince was well-known for fiercely protecting his intellectual property. A critic of the internet, he sued YouTube and eBay in 2007 for hosting his copyrighted music.
See Paul Donoughue, Prince's Estate Wants to Trademark Purple, the Colour Synonymous with the Late Pop Singer, ABC News, October 30, 2018.
Special thanks to Logan Underwood for bringing this article to my attention.