Anish Kapoor - the artist who owns the rights to the blackest shade of black – has retaliated against a ban that prevents him from buying the world's pinkest paint by acquiring it illegally. Stuart Semple, the creator of the pink pigment freely sells the high pigment paint for £3.99 on his website to “everyone except Anish Kapoor! (who won't share his black!).”
Semple, in an effort to keep Kapoor from using his proprietary hue, banned him from purchasing or using the color beginning in 2014 after Kapoor was given exclusive rights to the color “Vantablack.” The following language is explicitly included on the purchasing page of Semple’s site: “By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.”
As for how Kapoor got his hands on the pink pigment, Semple is unsure. He did have the following to say after Kapoor posted a photo of his middle finger covered in the pink paint on Instagram, along with the caption, “Up yours”: "It's obviously very disappointing that Anish has illegally got his hands on the world's Pinkest paint. If anyone knows who is behind sharing it with him it would be good if they could come forward - Anish is still very much at large, not just with the blackest black but now the stolen pinkest pink.”
And how – exactly – has Semple gained exclusive rights in a color, you ask? The legal protections that exist for the hue most likely stem from patent and/or trademark protection (the latter of which protects colors, as we know from the Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent case, among others).
Consider Vantablack. That color is the creation of UK-based company, NanoSystems and thus, the intellectual property of NanoSystems. As a result, the company has the right to limit its use however it pleases. Not only has the company filed to federally protect the name of the color by way of federal trademark registrations in the U.S. and the UK, it has a number of patents in the UK and the U.S. in connection with the process of "growing metal (including semiconductor metal) nanowires" – which refers to the way in which the Vantablack pigment is grown. According to NanoSystems, that Vantablack is a substance made from carbon nanotubes - it is composed of a forest of vertical tubes which are "grown."
Chances are, Semple’s pink pigment is protected in a similar manner.