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I was wondering if there is a copyright on the color schemes of some brands. For example can I use the exact colors of FedEx (purple and brown) in combination for my own logo? Or for example Pepsi's logo:

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Can I use those exact colors in a logo I create? Thanks for helping me out!

  • I doubt anybody at Pepsi would notice your logo, unless you plan to sell soft drinks worldwide in large volumes. If you become a competition to Pepsi, yeah maybe they will worry, otherwise, who cares. I would use anything the project requires.. if you are really worried try not to replicate the exact CMYK codes they are using. – Lucian Jan 6 '17 at 16:07
  • So if the colors are used in another industry it should be fine? Alright thanks, I'm a student and these days with people getting sued for the smallest things I can't take any risks :) – Alexander Ameye Jan 6 '17 at 16:09
  • Well my oppinion is not legal, so others might argue.. but after 15 years in the field, if a client needs a red & blue logo, i will deliver just that. – Lucian Jan 6 '17 at 16:10
  • If you google around for a logo with pretty much any color combination, you'd probably find dozens of examples. So if you couldn't use the same colors, that would mean no one can ever design a logo, ever again... – PieBie Jan 6 '17 at 16:19
  • Right, I was just thinking about the PayPal/Paytm case, but that's different because it's the same letter, same colors AND same industries, which won't be the case for me – Alexander Ameye Jan 6 '17 at 16:21
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This is a tricky question. You can't copyright a colour scheme as such, but certain colours (or combinations of colours) can be registered as patents for uses in specific categories. For instance, in the UK, Royal Mail has a patent relating to the use of the colour red in relation to postal delivery services so no other companies that deliver mail and parcels in the UK can have red vehicles or red uniforms.

For the examples that you have mentioned, you could use the same colours that have been used by these companies as long as you weren't producing a logo that looked like the existing logos or that operated in the same product / service categories.

There are a couple of basic principles that are useful to remember:

'Passing off' - this is the idea that you are trying to pass your product or service off as being the same thing or related to the existing brand. So if you design a logo for a delivery service that uses the same colours and styling as the FedEx logo then you would be guilty of implying an association with FedEx and attempting to trade off their good will and reputation.

'The stupid person in a hurry' - this sounds harsh, but the idea is that if a person uneducated in the details of brand identity, who is not paying close attention could confuse your logo / product / brand with that of an existing, established brand then you have infringed the IP of that brand by allowing your brand to be mistaken for it.

It's all common sense really. If you suspect that you are infringing the IP of an established brand, then you probably are so don't risk it. Just taking inspiration from a colour scheme and applying it to something completely unrelated is fine.

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  • Alright thanks! I would be only using the colors, in a totally different industry, with a logo looking nothing like the original so I should be fine, thanks! – Alexander Ameye Jan 6 '17 at 16:14

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