Top tips for registering colour marks in Serbia

Single-colour marks rarely qualify for protection in Serbia as “colour alone is not distinctive enough & not recognised by the average consumer as a trademark” (IPO’s official methodology guidelines).

While marks consisting of several colours can sometimes be considered as distinctive, this is decided on case-by-case basis. Distinctiveness can be inherent or can be achieved over time with use. The main concern is the ability of the public to distinguish the goods of different proprietors in the marketplace.

Example of rare single-colour mark, Kraft foods’ IR 644464 lilac in Class 30 (designated for the Republic of Serbia)

Example of rare single-colour mark, Kraft foods’ IR 644464 lilac in Class 30 (designated for the Republic of Serbia)

For single-colour marks, distinctiveness can only be acquired through use. The applicant must prove acquired distinctiveness and that the colour is not functional or generic with regard to the goods and services that the mark is being applied to. Use must be constant and serious, and show place, time and scope of use, and the applicant must provide evidence of this at the time of application or immediately thereafter.

  • If a large enough portion of the relevant public associates the colour in question with the brand, the single-colour mark will be considered distinctive. The Serbian IP Office will take into consideration:
  • quantity of sales;
  • time that the sign has been in use on the Serbian market;
  • level of marketing; and
  • degree of recognition by the public (usually proven through market research).

If the mark consists of a colour and a certain shape − as long as it is not a generic shape (eg, a circle or triangle) − it should be registrable.

The Serbian IP Office has a high threshold for assessing the distinctiveness of a single-colour mark – the international registration pictured above is one of the rare instances of a registration in the country − serious and long-term use needs to precede such an application in order for it to be successful. 

This is an Insight article, written by a selected partner as part of WTR's co-published content. Read more on Insight

Unlock unlimited access to all WTR content