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Colour Blind

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 14.35.41You may have seen in the news this week that there has been outrage by designers wanting to use a particular colour.. The story has been presented as the “colour” itself  (Vantablack) being trademarked and therefore not available to other artists.

This is where I start to get annoyed, as usual the journalists have missed the point; it is not the colour that is protected, but the technical formulation that enables that paint colour to be achieved.  If the paint is patented,  then the patentee can license to whom it pleases, while the patent is in force.  No one else has a “right” to use the colour, whether for artistic purposes or otherwise.

A quick search for patent applications under the name Surrey NanoSystems shows various patents/applications relating to methods for producing carbon-based nanomaterials, but nothing directly relating to paint.  If Surrey NanoSystems controls the method of making the carbon nanotube pigment that is the basis of the paint, it might be possible for them to limit who they sell the materials to, but if the paint were to be sold on the open market, they could not control who uses it or how.  So it’s a bit of a puzzle as to how Anish Kapoor can claim to have exclusive rights to the artistic use of the pigment (not “colour”).

However why let this little technicality get in the way of a good story?  It’s the same across the board when it comes to copyright, IP and trademark items. Perhaps it’s the lack of understanding for our industry or maybe they feel the need to “jazz it up”. Either way, it can be frustrating to see the story taken so out of context.

So I would suggest that you talk to a specialist before a journalist when it come to getting the right story and if you need your product protected..

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