Valid yellow colormark Kärcher

Ever since 1974, Kärcher has been using the color yellow for its cleaning devices. This same yellow color is also used consistently on their website, brochures, packaging, promotional material and all forms of advertising. In 1990, the company has registered the color yellow as a trademark. It has become clear in EU case law that a PMS or RAL code ought to be submitted with a color claim (only a description is considered too vague). For that reason, in 2012 a new application was filed for the color mark.


Varo sells pressure cleaners in the combined colors yellow/black. Kärcher claims this is an infringement and demands a ban. The central question is to what extent Kärcher can rightfully rely on both color marks.

Court rules that the old color mark from 1990 is invalid. It has not been claimed with enough precision, as any color code is missing. The new trademark however has been submitted correctly. Color marks are often not immediately recognized as a trademark by the consumer, unless the color has become established through long and intensive use which is the case here.

Kärcher has consistently used this specific tone of yellow as a distinguishing mark for decades and the marketing investment has been substantial. Market research shows that consumers recognize this tone of yellow as Kärcher’s brand. Result: infringement, prohibition and payment of damages.


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MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?