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Alert Ween: UPS Has Trademarked the Color Brown

February 25th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

I was buying a Spongebob Squarepants-themed rectal thermometer for my uncle online this afternoon (his Shrek one is broken) when I noticed something really, really weird. Yes, weirder than a Spongebob Squarepants rectal thermometer that ACTUALLY PLAYS THE THEME SONG when it’s done reading one’s temperature.

And just relax about my uncle, okay? He collects these sorts of things. Spongebob paraphernalia, I mean. My uncle does not, to the best of my knowledge, have a collection of musical rectal thermometers.

But look. I was buying the thing from a website called America RX, and filling in my shipping information when I noticed a really weird caveat. See if you can spot it in this screencap:


See? Isn’t that weird? According to that website, UPS has trademarked the color BROWN. That can’t be true, can it? I checked the UPS site myself, and sure enough, under trademarks:


This changes EVERYTHING. This can’t be possible. It’s like that one Superman comic where Mr. Myxtlplk copyrighted the alphabet and bankrupted the entire world. What are chocolate factories, furriers, and Ween going to do? This is the silliest crime, ever. I can’t believe it. How is this going to be enforced? Who is going to take Hershey to court for copyright infringement?

One thing’s for sure — that Spongebob thermometer’s gonna be breaking a LOT of copyright laws before this whole thing gets hammered out.

Filed under Jeff Simmermon having 14 Comments »

14 Responses

  1. Les liens du jour - Grégory Karékinian : Le Weblog Says:

    [...] Alert Ween: UPS Has Trademarked the Color Brown [...]

  2. Spongebob Squarepants » Blog Archive » Alert Ween: UPS Has Trademarked the Color Brown Says:

    [...] Original post by JeffSimmermon [...]

  3. Kristin Says:

    Does this mean that I have to get rid of and/or pay royalties on my favorite pair of cords and all 7 of my brown sweaters?

  4. Modern Polymath Says:

    I love it!!!

    Although, just to clarify, it’s not the color brown they are trademarking the NAME ‘Brown’ and the NAME ‘Color Brown’. Like in their slogan ‘What can Brown do for you?’

    Basically, what it protects is you opening up a delivery service (or any competing business) and calling it ‘Brown’, but you can certainly use brown trucks and uniforms if you wanted.

    And this only applies for competing businesses. Obviously, Brown University can keep their name. ;)

  5. Sra Says:

    I work at an intellectual property law firm, so let me explain: all trademarks have to be associated with goods and/or services. That’s why you can have several companies that have trademarks for, say, “United” — their goods or services are different enough not to be considered conflicting in commerce. So UPS’s trademarks for brown have to do with their services of shipping. So no other shipping company can use the brown that is characteristic of UPS services. Clear as mud?

  6. Melanie Smellanie Says:

    I love “the power of brown” and “what can brown do for you”…it’s just too hilarious. What I really want to know is when is UPS going to find, and then subsequently trademark, the brown noise?

  7. ex_sunnyvale-renter Says:

    Um, I took the biggest crap today – yep, all brown. Where do I sent the royalty check?

  8. D.Billy Says:

    F*ck you, nature! Pay up!

  9. Oliver Says:

    It is well known, that Pepsi owns the color blue and that nobody can legally use blue in their advertising.

  10. Nathan Says:

    @Oliver – really?! Cause I’m sure IBM has something to say about their trademarked color blue…

    Point is, yes colors can be legally trademarked, but only very specific ones (probably Pantone)

  11. Tim Zim Says:

    I don’t suppose they have also trademarked the British colour brown?

    Not that I give a (brown) shit :)

  12. jd Says:

  13. some lawyer someplace Says:

    UPS has a trademark on a specific shade of brown as defined in the Pantone color matching system, also known as Pullman Brown, when used in connection with shipping services. To this extent their trademark is not inappropriate. Had they attempted to use this color in, say, 1935, when the Pullman railroad car company was a massive force in the world, they’d probably have been sued all day and night. This is the sort of thing that lawyers find amusing…

  14. corey Says:

    They have their brown trademarked the same way coke has their red trademarked. It only applies to package companies in the case of UPS, so someone cant start another shipping company in the US and use that brown.

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