The Fight Over the Color Orange: Hershey vs. Mars

Can color alone be a trademark?  That’s a WOW and a “maybe”!  Who could think of color as trademark?  Apparently the candy company Hershey does.  Mars thinks not and filed a declaration to say that Hershey does not own the exclusive rights to the color orange for peanut butter.

This action is not the beginning of the feud. The court battle began in November 2010 when Hershey sued Mars for using orange for Dove Peanut Butter Promises single wrapping package. Hershey is claiming trademark dilution and infringement on the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Based in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Hershey is the largest manufacturer of chocolate in the United States.  The Mars Company was ranked second in 2008.  Mars elevates themselves as the “premium’ brand of chocolate with the Dove brand accounting that Hershey produces chocolate at a lower standard.  Mars is based in McClean, Virginia.

First of all, this proves the chocolate business is business and we should all take warning with our packaging and branding. Even a single piece of candy can create havoc.   Both companies are age-old US companies with trademark protection.

The point is that successful marketing is critical to all brands.  Our displays and packages are dependant upon the graphics and even upon what we consider to be non-dominate decisions like what color, or what kind of brush strokes or accents we will use.  If you are successful you will rely heavily on your “word mark” and the “service mark”; one for the brand name and the other for design.  All of it could matter someday!