Colour dispute in Germany

sparkassse_santander_coulour_disputeIs it possible to protect a special colour as a registered trademark for a whole sector? Courts in Germany currently have to deal with this question.

The German “Sparkasse” bank protected the colour HKS 13 (bright red) as a registered trademark in the German banking sector in 2007. Since the 1960s Sparkasse has been using this red for their brand. The Spanish “Santander” bank uses the similar HKS 14 red and asked for the cancellation of the trademark.

The Federal Patent Court of Germany just found in favour of Santander. Sparkasse, however, announced to appeal at the Federal Supreme Court of Germany.

The banking system being global today, it is questionable if the protection of a colour for a national sector is still appropriate today. Moreover, we have to ask when a colour can generally be considered as a brand.


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