Kimberly-Clark® is no stranger to securing federal registrations for its various non-traditional trademarks. No doubt, these unconventional trademark assets are of great commercial value and an important part of K-C’s evolving business strategy and intellectual property portfolio.

My previous post about the oval-shaped facial tissue container K-C was able to federally register in November 2007 is linked here. That post also discussed their current non-traditional trademark application covering a “textured alternating dot pattern appearing on the surface of the carton of disposable paper hand-towels.” By way of update, it was initially refused registration in April, but the application remains pending, as can be seen here, with no response due until October 2009.

Kimberly-Clark® has non-traditional, single color trademarks too:

Kimberly Clark Safeskin Purple Nitrile Exam GlovesSAFESKIN® Purple Nitrile Exam Gloves, Beaded Cuff, Small, Purple. Box of 100

In fact, I recently came across a pair of their federal trademark registrations for “the color purple,” one obtained in 2002 and the other in 2006. The differences in the description of goods between these two “color purple” registrations help make a point that is quite important to both marketing and trademark types, namely, the importance of keeping registered trademark scope current and consistent with the underlying and evolving business scope.

In considering this pair of color registrations, the more recent 2006 “purple” registration broadly covers “disposable nitrile gloves for general use.” The phrase “for general use” is a big deal — and worth the additional registration — because it adds significant scope to the narrower federally-registered rights K-C obtained back in 2002 for the same color mark in connection with the far more limited laboratory, medical and surgical uses.

It is often argued that customers from the more narrowly defined laboratory, medical and surgical consuming groups are more “sophisticated” and less prone to trademark confusion than those in the general public, so when marketing channels grow and sales begin to expand from these more “sophisticated” purchasers to also include those in the general public, it is important to make sure the registered rights extend protection to this more vulnerable and larger customer base too.

Moral of the Story: Trademark types, make sure to keep pace with the business and marketing types.