Under Consideration’s Brand New Blog has on two recent occasions commented about the trend in using white as the color for product packaging of consumable goods. Wal-Mart was the first to use this color packaging for its private label brand and the European community appears to be following suit. Using a white background has its marketing appeal, but consumers are unlikely to rely on the color white to distinguish between two different consumable goods. Additionally, it is unlikely that the user of a white background will be able to obtain a federal trademark registration for this color. However, product packaging backgrounds can be another way for companies to distinguish their products from their competitors, and it is possible to obtain a federal trademark registration for the product packaging background.
Background designs can be registered as trademarks even if they are to an extent ornamental and aesthetically pleasing. The key is whether a background design creates a commercial impression separate and apart from the other elements that appear on the product packaging. If the background design creates a separate commercial impression, it can be registered as a trademark. In fact, a background design can be inherently distinctive. In other words, consumers can immediately rely on the background design to distinguish between two sources of goods.
Unless business reasons dictate using an ordinary background, why waste an opportunity to connect with your consumer. Therefore, keep in mind that the background design of your product packaging can function as a trademark and help you further distinguish your goods from those of your competitors.