19 February 2016
Three Russian giants – Sberbank, Gazprom and MTS Get Monopolies on Their Corporate Colours: Shades of Green, Blue and Red


In late 2015 and early 2016, Rospatent registered red, green and blue colours as trademarks for Sberbank, Gazprom and MTS. The companies have, therefore, secured their right to the particular shades: Sberbank now has “green, which is Pantone 349”, MTS has “red, Pantone 485”, and Gazprom has “blue, Pantone 300CV”.  

Key provisions:

Registration of the said trademarks means that the companies have obtained monopolies on the use of certain shades of the respective colours to personalize goods and services in their market segments: MTS’ red in the telecommunications market, Gazprom’s blue in the oil & gas industry and energy sector, Sberbank’s green in the banking services industry.

Sberbank, Gazprom and MTS had previously had their logos registered as renowned trademarks. Registration of the mono colour as a trademark is part of the total brand protection strategy.

Key issues:

Since the registration applies only to the core activities of Sberbank, Gazprom and MTS, other companies will still be in a position to use the said colours for their goods and services in other sectors. However, these trademark holders obtain broader options for claims, since these primary colours are often used, especially in the banking and telecommunications sectors market. This is particularly important in dealing with unfair competition in the form of so-called “ambush marketing”.

The monopolies obtained on corporate colours do not nullify earlier registrations using the same or similar tints. However, companies that use these colours should carefully review and analyze the perspectives of their brands. For example, it is obvious that such a monopoly will discourage further registration of trademarks with similar colours in the same sector.

Other companies might follow the trend set by the Russian business giants and consider obtaining exclusive rights to their corporate colours. There are no technical obstacles to such registration, and an example here is the neon pink for detergents registered as a trademark by Rospatent back in 2006. However, until recently such registrations were unusual for the Russian market.


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