Should I Claim Color in my Federal Trademark Application?

claim color in trademark
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Detroit Trademark Attorneys: Claiming Color in Your Trademark Application

When an application for registration of a trademark is filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a specimen must be included which demonstrates that the mark is being used in interstate commerce, a prerequisite for the approval of the application. 

If the specimen is for a design mark (a logo) which utilizes 1 or more colors other than black & white, you have “claimed color” in your trademark application. 

Is Claiming Color in Your Trademark Application Good or Bad? 

Claiming color is neither good nor bad. However, it is something that should be done purposefully and at the right time for your particular enterprise. 

Generally, your initial logo design mark application with the USPTO should be in black & white and should not claim color. 


When your application for logo or design mark is approved by the USPTO, it is approved as-is. That means that, whatever you included in the design, is now what is protected. Exactly as displayed. 

Therefore, if you included colors on a somewhat haphazard basis and not because they specifically identify your business in a necessary way (think the McDonalds Golden Arches!), then you have limited the scope of your trademark protection fairly drastically. 

If you file an application with a black-and-white logo design specimen, you have succeeded in protecting the design itself without regard to whatever colors may or may not be included in the design in any public commercial application at any point. 

So long as the basic design as used on signage, brochures, your website, your Amazon, Ebay, or Etsy storefront, the design will be protected by your trademark registrationeven if you vary the colors from appearance to appearance. 

When Would I Claim Color in My Trademark Registration Application? 

Generally, color is best claimed when you have already protected your basic design with, first, a word mark (name) trademark application to protect your business name or slogan. Then, a design mark in black & white only to protect the essential logo design. 

Then, once the design mark logo has been in commercial use for a long enough period of time that you have settled on a color scheme for the design that will not vary and that has come to be uniquely identified with your business and the particular product or service for which you have registered the mark, a third application utilizing color is then best filed. 

As in comedy, timing is everything. 

Detroit Trademark Attorneys: The Bottom Line on Claiming Color

The bottom line with regard to the registration of a trademark utilizing color is that retention of a knowledgeable trademark lawyer is essential to the success of the application with the USPTO. 

The Hilla Law Firm is located in the Detroit area but represents clients nationally for trademark matters and offers free video or telephonic consultations. 

If you are interested in discussing the filing of an initial trademark application or defending an office action already filed, please contact us at (734) 743-1489 to discuss your matter or click the Register Now button to the right.

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