Vanderbilt Law Review


Emilie Winckel

First Page



The fashion industry thrives because of the consuming public's desire to be affiliated with appealing brands. Some of these coveted brands are best identified by particular colors-for example, Tiffany & Co.'s blue, Hermes's orange, and Christian Louboutin's red. Others are internationally known for specific designs that incorporate color-such as Missoni's vibrant patterns. While these colors may be well- recognized symbols of specific brands, and thus deserving of trademark protection, designers rely on a broad and unrestricted array of colors in order to continue conjuring up the latest trends for each new season. Due to these often-competing interests inherent to the industry, fashion designers seeking protection for their single- color trademarks or their identifying use of colors in a design encounter significant challenges.

The Supreme Court, echoing Congress's intent to define trademark broadly, denied a per se exclusion to the protection of single-color trademarks,' but perhaps the fashion industry's fundamental dependence on color renders the protection of single-color marks particularly problematic.