BP’s Federal Court win: trade mark registration for colour green granted

BP’s Federal Court win: trade mark registration for colour green granted

In a landmark decision, recently handed down by the Federal Court, BP was granted protection for the colour green as the predominant colour for its service stations and products.

BP has used a combination of green and yellow to identify its service stations and products since the 1920's. In 1989 as part of a re-branding exercise they moved to using predominantly green.

In 1991 BP filed a trade mark application in Australia for the colour green, as used on its service stations and products. A second application was filed in 1995 and both were accepted for registration in 1997. Woolworths Limited then opposed the accepted applications in proceedings before the Australian Trade Marks Office and were successful. BP started proceedings to appeal the decision in the Federal Court in 2000.

The Federal Court found in favour of BP in its decision handed down on 25 October 2004. Mr Justice Finkelstein traces the history of petrol stations from the sale of petrol from two gallon cans by bicycle repairers and carriage makers to the roll out of standardised service stations subject to strict visual standards before reaching the conclusion that BP was entitled to obtain registration of the colour green as a Trade Mark in relation to fuel and service stations.

He reached that conclusion on the basis of evidence of very long-standing and extensive use of green with 1,356 green BP services stations in operation in Australia by December 1995, as well as a survey conducted in 2001 which found that because of the colour 84% of Australian consumers surveyed associated a picture of a green service station with BP.

BP was represented at the hearing by Davies Collison Cave Solicitors.