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Use The Colour Red, Get Sued By Royal Mail

I recently received a letter from Royal Mail and was shocked and dismayed to discover that to use the colour red from now on will be illegal – it is now one of their registered trademarks!

Royal Mail: We Own Red
“Royal Mail, the Cruciform and the colour red are registered Trade Marks of Royal Mail Group plc.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on a minute there… the colour red? Now, is this just a mistake on my side because I’ve been brought up believing that the ‘serial comma‘ is bad grammatical practice, or has this company just registered a trademark on a colour?

Thinking about this further I came to the conclusion that this trademark must be regarding the use of the colour red when producing or advertising mail-related products – after all, in the UK this would immediately make (most) people think of Royal Mail and as such they have acquired local distinctiveness in that sector.

This can’t be right though, as how have UPS’ Lynx courier service escaped their wrath?

Ah, to hell with it!


  1. Cormac
    Posted October 29, 2007 at 11:54 | Permalink

    Tell me sir,
    where is this ‘serial comma‘ you speak of?
    My eyes may deceive me, but I can only see one comma which is not before an AND or OR.

  2. Posted October 29, 2007 at 12:26 | Permalink


    Thanks for the comment. This is my point exactly: because we don’t readily use the serial comma in Britain, confusion like this is rife. Let me explain…

    In this case the phrase “the Cruciform and the colour red” simply doesn’t ’sound right’ so therefore many people assume they are two separate items… “the Cruciform, and the colour red” (if using serial commas).

    Correctly, it should read “the red Cruciform” if it were referring to a cruciform that was red, thus the assumption seems correct that it is referring to two separate items.

    I’m just saying, if the serial comma were readily used in Britain, confusion like this wouldn’t occur.

    Yeah, I should’ve made this a bit clearer originally, but hey… I’m only nearly perfect!

  3. Posted October 18, 2010 at 13:23 | Permalink

    I know this is WAY, WAY after the event, but I just Google Searched this issue and this thread came up. It’s interesting, cause I was looking at some official documentation from Royal Mail and saw that statement, and just wondered how can they get away with saying the Colour Red is a trademark, when actually it is only a specific colour in conjunction with the Cruciform. They leave it very unambiguous for the “average” reader (which I am…!)

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