Can 3M keep other companies from making pale yellow sticky notes? Can John Deere protect “John Deere Green”? Does a red bucket indicate a single source? Ever since Owens-Corning secured trademark rights in the color pink for insulation, companies have claimed single colors as trademarks, and competitors have opposed such claims, citing a host of policy considerations.

Early cases held that color alone could not be a trademark. See A Leschen & Sons Rope Co. v. Broderick & Bascom Rope Co., 201 U.S. 166, 171 (1906). Later, courts protected a color with a showing of secondary meaning under unfair competition theory. See Clifton Mfg. Co. v. Crawford-Austin Mfg., 12 S.W.2d 1098 (Tex. Civ. App. 1929).

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