The color skin

You may know Pantone as an industry standard in color systems. No color trademark can be registered without explicitly stating the Pantone-color.

Pantone, Inc. is not only the authority on the accurate communication of color, it has discovered it can be much more than that. It has discovered the holy M-word in marketing: merchandising.

So now you can buy anything from Pantone World: cups, laptop sleeves, Christmas decoration, you name it. All covered with the Pantone color system. Very cool!

But is the appearance of the system also protectable, and more important, is it protected?

Tattly.com is a website where you can buy tattoos. Not the sailor-kind or the ones you get form a dodge looking guy on a beach on your holiday. No, funny, quirky, beautifully designed tattoos. Recently they have started selling a Tattone: a Pantone-like ‘color box’ that is transparent and shows your skin. Skin color! Very creative.

But, on their merchandising quest, Pantone might not be too glad about this. This is something we’re sure they would have liked to make money off.

Do they have trademarks? Is it a copyright issue? Or can something as trivial as a color system not be protected?

Interesting question for a Monday morning.

Erwin Hauër

“Hope is not a strategy.”

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