Pantone Inc. is a corporation headquartered in Carlstadt, New Jersey, USA. The company is best known for its Pantone Matching System (PMS), a proprietary color space used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, though sometimes in the manufacture of colored paint, fabric and plastics.
On 23 August 2007, X-Rite Inc, a supplier of color measurement instruments and software, announced it had reached an agreement to purchase Pantone Inc for $180 million. The deal was completed in October 2007.
The company's primary products include 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 of varying tints.
The idea behind the PMS is to allow designers to 'color match' specific colors when a design enters production stage—regardless of the equipment used to produce the color. This system has been widely adopted by graphic designers, reproduction and printing houses for a number of years now. Pantone recommends that PMS Color Guides be purchased annually as their inks become more yellow over time. Color variance also occurs within editions based on the paper stock used (coated, matte or uncoated), while inter-edition color variance occurs when there are changes to the specific paper stock used.
The Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another.
One such use is standardizing colors in the CMYK process. The CMYK process is a method of printing color by using four inks—cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The vast majority of the world's printed material is produced using the CMYK process, and there is a special subset of Pantone colors that can be reproduced using CMYK. Those that are possible to simulate through the CMYK process are labeled as such within the company's guides.
However, most of the Pantone system's 1,114 spot colors cannot be simulated with CMYK but with 13 base pigments (15 including white and black) mixed in specified amounts.
The Pantone system also allows for many 'special' colors to be produced such as metallics and fluorescents. While most of the Pantone system colors are beyond the printed CMYK gamut, it is only in 2001 that Pantone began providing translations of their existing system with screen based colors (Screen based colors use the RGB—red, green, blue—system to create various colors). The GOE system has RGB and LAB values with each color.
Pantone colors are described by their allocated number (typically referred to as, for example, 'PMS 130'). PMS colors are almost always used in branding and have even found their way into government legislation (to describe the colors of flags). In January 2003, the Scottish Parliament debated a petition (reference PE512) to refer to the blue in the Scottish flag (saltire) as 'Pantone 300'. Countries such as Canada and South Korea and organizations such as the FIA have also chosen to refer to specific Pantone colors to use when producing flags. U.S. States including Texas have set legislated PMS colors of their flags.
The Goe name has no meaning, however the swatchbooks are well thought out as compared to the original Pantone system whose new colors were added ad-hoc. It is also streamlined to use fewer base colors (10 + Clear coating for reflections) and accommodates many technical challenges in reproducing colors on a press.
In mid-2006 Pantone, partnering with Vermont-based Fine Paints of Europe, introduced a new line of interior and exterior paints. The color palette uses Pantone's color research and trending and has more than 3000 colors.
Pantone also produces Hexachrome, a patented six-color printing system.