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Do not use brown -- you might be sued!
Old 06-09-2006, 01:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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If you, my learned colleagues, use brown clothing, backdrops, accents, themes, motifs, etc...watch out! You may get a nasty-gram from UPS' lawyers.

The following is a snippet, from a discussion of trademark and intellectual property ("IP").
-------------------------------------------------

UPS' claim to "own" the dark brown color used on their vehicles "as a trademark" has long been mocked by legal professionals as "idiotic, ludicrous, and bizarre over-reaching." Although some commentators compared it to Harley-Davidson's attempt some years ago to trademark the distinctive sound of their motorcycles, Harley-Davidson actually had an arguable case, and the denial of TM protection was a close call by the court. Distinctive sounds are protectable as TM or the like, and sometimes also under copyright. UPS' claim of color ownership is far from the first such case. Among notable earlier attempts were those by David-Clark, a headset manufacturer, to trademark and copyright the aqua-green shade of their headset earcups. David-Clark, though, did not try to extend its claim to cover house paint, vehicles, and even clothing.

Despite lack of legal authority, UPS has recently increased its frequency of threatening companies and individuals which incorporate dark brown into logos or motifs. The brown is described as relatively "neutral" (neither bluish nor reddish) and of approximately 11% reflectance, somewhat darker than the 18% gray often used as a photographic standard of reference. UPS has repudiated demands to exactly delineate the claimed color by specifying, for example, the exact Pantone color matching system designation.

The letters we've seen were directed toward firms in the transportation and shipping area, and complained about the use of dark brown even in very small accent uses. However, UPS has also been "warning off" brown-using firms in fields unrelated to transport, including at least one textile company and several clothing manufacturers.

Firms or designers who use shades of dark brown not dissimilar to those used by UPS may themselves receive threatening "cease and desist" letters. Practitioners in the IP field may wish to advise their clients to avoid using brown colors at all similar to those used by UPS. Or be prepared for a battle with a well-heeled and litigious plaintiff.

Perhaps eschewing dark brown is no great hardship: One noted designer quipped, "Why use it [UPS brown] at all? It's ugly as h..l." And a traffic safety expert urged against its use, except as minor accents, in any kind of vehicle application, warning, "...low conspicuity and tendency to blend in to both an urban and rural environment leads to traffic accidents. It would be interesting to analyze how many accidents have happened simply because other drivers failed to see the muddy brown of a UPS vehicle. It is, however, certain, that both UPS drivers and 3rd parties have died because of the low visibility--sometimes near invisibility--of UPS' brown.

========================
The following is from UPS' corporate website:

© Copyright 2006 United Parcel Service of America, Inc. UPS, the UPS brandmark, and the color brown as used by UPS are trademarks of United Parcel Service of America, Inc. The marks and trademarks, including all business uses of the shade and tone of brown used by United Parcel Service, are protected. All rights reserved.
 
 
Re: Do not use brown -- you might be sued!
Old 06-09-2006, 02:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I can use FedEx! They can take their Brown and put it where the sun don't shine..
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Re: Do not use brown -- you might be sued!
Old 06-09-2006, 02:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow that's like a special new kind of crazy.
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Re: Do not use brown -- you might be sued!
Old 06-10-2006, 10:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This sounds very similar to a chocolate company here in Australia claimed to own the colour purple. The Federal Court put them in their place.

link: http://www.theage.com.au/news/nation...861520896.html
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Re: Do not use brown -- you might be sued!
Old 06-10-2006, 11:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epeters
IThey can take their Brown and put it where the sun don't shine..
Hmmm ... thought that's where the brown came FROM?
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