Reference Library: Pantone
'Pantone Inc.', a multi-billion-dollar corporation headquartered in Carlstadt, New Jersey, is known for its 'Pantone' color matching systems, used in a variety of industries, including printing, and in the manufacture of colored paint, fabric and plastics. "Pantone" is also used informally as the name of a proprietary color space created by this company.
Pantone was founded in 1962 by Lawrence Herbert, now the current CEO, Chairman and President of the company. At first, Pantone was a small business which manufactured color cards for cosmetics companies. Herbert soon acquired Pantone, and developed the first color matching system in 1963.
Primary among these products are the Pantone Guides, which consist of a large number of small (approximately 6×2 inches or 15×5 cm) thin cardboard sheets, printed on one side with a series of related color swatches and then bound into a small flipbook. For instance, a particular "page" might contain a number of yellows varying in luminance from light to dark. Annual editions of the Pantone Guides are released, since the inks in each edition will fade over time.
In theory, the idea of the Pantone system is to pick desired colors from the guides, and then use their numbers to specify how to color the finished article. In the case of printing, one might ask the print shop to "print this area using Pantone 655". The print shop will have instructions on how to produce color 655 on their equipment, and the output will look as expected. Pantone guides are recommended to be replaced yearly. Pantone guides from differing years and editions often have colors that deviate from each other. One solution would be to go digital, with the use of the Pantone library built into spectrophotometers. This way users could measure the color value and compare to the Pantone value directly without having to measure the printed Pantone color guide. Some printer manufacturers supply Pantone palettes for use with specific printers, allowing palettes to be imported into software.
People often mistake Pantone for a color management system. While the majority of home and office printing is done on four-color printers, using the CMYK system, the Pantone system actually defines mixes of base inks, and are called spot colors. As such Pantone colors do not really fall into the RGB (ie. screen) or CMYK (i.e. four-color print) gamuts, and are often used to extend the possibilities of color in print (including metallic and "Day-Glo").
Pantone colors, described by their number, have found their way into legislation, especially to describe the colors of flags. In January 2003, the Scottish Parliament debated a petition (reference PE512) to define the blue in the Scottish flag (saltire) as Pantone 300. As well, countries such as Canada and South Korea indicate specific Pantone colors to use when producing flags. It is open to speculation whether legislators realize that Pantone may choose to reformulate the color, or that color science offers other more permanent ways (such as CIELab or sRGB) to define a color.
Pantone asserts that their list of color numbers and values is the intellectual property of Pantone and free use of the list is not allowed. This is frequently held as a reason why Pantone colors cannot be supported in Open Source software such as GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) and are not often found in low-cost software. It has been claimed that "it seems as if the company is being intentionally unclear" but it is acknowledged that "the simplest claim would be trademark misappropriation or dilution towards someone who produced a color palette marketed as compatible with Pantone's". However, Pantone palettes supplied by printer manufacurers can be obtained freely, and depending on supplier, do not come with usage restriction beyond sales ban on hard copy of the palette.
Pantone also [http://www.pantone.com/aboutus/aboutus.asp?idArticle=64&idPressRelease=38 announced] the ownership of [http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5,734,800.PN.&OS=PN/5,734,800&RS=PN/5,734,800 patent 5,734,800], a six-color Hexachrome printing system.
* [http://pantone.com/ Official website]
* [http://software.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=05/10/25/153221 Pantone, intellectual property, and free software]
* [http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20050816092029989#c350672 Informal discussion] of intellectual property rights, including Pantone (search article)
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pantone".