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Another intellectual property issue involving a color

We recently talked about a unique type of trademark based on the senses such as sound, scent and color. As we wrote, these kinds of marks, while rare, can be registered when a color is associated with a product, service or company in the marketplace such as brown with UPS or canary yellow with Post-It notes.


Artsy published an interesting piece on another way color can relate to intellectual property rights.

Introducing Quantum Blue 

This summer, scientists, an artist and a color researcher together made advancements in their quest to develop a new blue pigment using nanotechnology, a new science based on manipulation of extremely small particles, much smaller than those previously used in research and development. 

The hue is best observed using ultraviolet or UV light, giving it a blue glow. Viewed without UV light, it appears off white. The key is “quantum dots,” particles measuring smaller than one millionth of an inch that produce color well, making them useful for screen technology. 

Olga Alexopoulou, the artist involved in this project, heard about the use of quantum dots to produce color and asked the question whether the technology could produce artists’ pigments, especially blue. According to Artsy, “entirely new blue pigments are very rare,” but the pigment industry overall is worth $30 billion, so interest in new hues continues. 

In the case of Quantum Blue, one of its scientist-inventors believes that its main use will be in art, but that it might be usable in jewelry if the necessary lighting can be incorporated. 

Because developing a brand new color is actually an invention involving ingredients and formulas, a newly developed color may even be patentable. For example, in 1960, International Klein Blue was patented, having been developed by an artist-scientist collaboration. 

As described in the article, there is still the challenge of determining the right timing of seeking a patent, given the desire to keep the formula and process for making the color secret as long as possible, yet needing to work with potential manufacturers and advertisers to create and market it.





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