The baby pink, bubble-wrap pouch Glossier ships products in is a genuinely brilliant idea from a marketing and packaging perspective. Customers began using the pouch, which looks disposable, to store makeup and other products indefinitely, photographing it like it was a new accessory. Suddenly, the flimsy pink pouch was as iconic a product as any of Glossier’s lip balms or concealers.
Glossier seized on this momentum to file a trademark for the pouch along with their pink-lined shipping boxes back in November, The Fashion Law reported. But the trademarks were refused by the USPTO, which claimed the bubble wrap pouches are merely functional for keeping products safe and that the pink-lined boxes are a decorative feature, not registrable for trademark. The USPTO also said that consumers aren’t likely “to perceive the color pink as identifying the origin of [Glossier’s] goods,” TFL reported. Basically: anybody can do pink, why do you think you’re special?
Really Glossier is trying to trademark something difficult, which is a larger set of associations with Glossier and very specific textures and colors. They’re trying to trademark the essence of a brand that might seem obvious to anyone who knows what Glossier is (of course no makeup brand should try to co-opt their baby pink hue, of course the bubble wrap pouches are distinctly Glossier), one which they believe is imbued in the packaging.
TFL notes that Glossier’s counsel pointed out how consumers covet the packaging as much as the products: “These social media posts not only demonstrate that many consumers already associate the pink box with [Glossier], but they also serve to educate even more consumers and reinforce the association between the pink box and Glossier.” And while I agree that for me, the “millennial pink” of Glossier’s brand is distinctly Glossier, to a huge swath of consumers that association might not even be there.