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Pantone owns colors. This is weird.

Seeing how just about everything is commoditized, commercialized and capitalized, it really shouldn’t surprise me that Pantone, the color management company, holds rights to certain colors. This rubs me as odd thought. It would be like a music company copyrighting a chord.

I learned about it because Adobe is no longer integrating Pantone-owned colors for free. If you’re a designer, you’ll have to pay for a separate license for them to be included.

Via Kotaku:

Pantone has been around since the 1950s, the New Jersey company originally refining printing inks, then later inventing the Pantone Color Matching System, used worldwide by designers to ensure a creation’s color will be exactly as desired, no matter where or how it’s manufactured. So, of course in becoming the industry-standard for color-matching, the company naturally asserts ownership of all its 2,161 hues, defending its intellectual property and preventing its unlicensed use. This extends as far as preventing others from creating “Pantone-compatible” color systems. Or, to put it another way, they claim to own colors.

If I squint, I can see a color being part of a trademark when it comes to branding. For example, Mattel’s Barbie pink when it comes to the world of dolls (that’s Pantone 219C | #DA1884 for those keeping score at home).

But, as I said above, claiming ownership of 2,161 hues seems a bit much and similar in my mind to claiming various musical chords and their inversions.

D minor sus4, brought to you by Fender, if you will.

Here’s a brief video from Business Insider about some of the colors that different companies claim.

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments?

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