She says the particular coloured paper had been sitting in her drawer for a few years before she decided to use it to make a handful of flowers which she listed on online marketplace Etsy.
Tiffany’s reaction was swift with the jewellery brand sending notice of a trademark infringement to Etsy over the weekend.
“These items violate our trademark,” the infringement notice stated. “None of the items, images or names has been authorised by Tiffany & Co. to be used on this website.”
Etsy deactivated Poppins listing and informed her she was infringing Tiffany’s trademark.
“I realised I needed to make the change as soon as possible,” Poppins says. “I understood what the issue was.”
Tiffany & Co first published its blue book in 1845 and since that time its signature blue hue has come to be immediately associated with the jewellery brand which trade marked the colour in 1998.
The jeweller has not objected to Poppins use of the colour, just the phrase ‘Tiffany blue’ and so Poppins has applied for the flowers to be relisted on Etsy with the colour described as ‘blue turquoise’.
“Blue turquoise is a Pantone colour so it should be perfectly safe,” she says.
“My advice is to definitely research your wording before you go ahead with listing any items.”
Suzy Schmitz, consulting principal at Keypoint Law, says using someone else’s brand in a product listing without infringing their intellectual property is tricky and best avoided as a general rule.
“Tiffany’s complaint was about the word ‘Tiffany & Co’, first registered in 1983, but also raises the issue of colour marks,” she says. “Tiffany’s and some other companies have managed to register rights in specific colours, although this is rare and the scope is usually narrow. As a product designer, if you are choosing a colour which immediately calls to mind a famous brand then it’s worth delving into whether any colour rights exist.”
Tiffany & Co and Etsy were contacted for comment but did not respond.
Cara is the small business editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne