Trademarked Colors

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Recently, I spotted a story about T-Mobile successfully forcing a company called Lemonade to change the color of their marketing materials in Germany. T-Mobile was able to do this because they own a trademark on the color magenta. I first learned of the rather ridiculous idea of trademarking a color many years ago, and since that time, I’ve kept a not-at-all comprehensive list of stories about this practice. Today, let’s take a look at just a few colors that companies have attempted to trademark, with varying degrees of success.

 Magenta 

T-Mobile uses magenta widely, and the color is certainly well associated with them in the telecommunications space. However, the aforementioned story involved them suing an online insurance provider. Worse, it seems T-Mobile isn’t even using the color they actually have trademarked, as evidenced by this graphic from the story:

My favorite part about this is that some lawyer got paid to be really snarky, in pink chart form.

 Pullman Brown 

This brown is trademarked by United Parcel Service (UPS). As truly long-time readers will know, this site established nearly a decade ago that brown is a bad color. Frankly, UPS can have it.

 Yellow 

The Wiffle Ball Inc. owns the color yellow when it comes to plastic bats. That’s fair enough, but what’s more than a little ridiculous is that many Wiffle bats state “The color YELLOW is a registered trademark of The Wiffle Ball, Inc.”.

A bit of research indicates several other companies own or have attempted to own “yellow” within their various sectors, from Mr. LongArm (“World’s Leading US Manufacturer of Extension Poles & Accessories”) to Cheerios (General Mills had no luck there). Perhaps this competition is what led Lemonade to use magenta, rather than fighting so many others for the more obvious yellow.

 Purple 

For years, British chocolatier Cadbury held a trademark on the colo(u)r purple. Earlier this year, a serious of legal maneuverings actually led to them losing the registered trademark on that color. For a wealth of reasons, though, it would still be inadvisable to sell chocolate wrapped in purple.

 Green 

Oil and gas megacorporation BP has repeatedly attempted to claim the color green in Australia, suing retailer Woolworths unsuccessfully, after the latter has also used green in its own gas stations. Perhaps BP might instead consider trademarking Gulf-Of-Mexico-oil-spill black?

Closing

Legally, trademarking a color as part of a corporate identity within a specific sector like “shipping” or “backyard baseball” makes some degree sense. Attempting to claim ownership of a color broadly, however, generally just winds up being laughable.

The UT-erus 

Friday, November 15th, 2019

The University of Texas is looking to make some changes to their football stadium. They might want to rethink things a bit.

Just Say No to Gender Reveal Parties

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

While at a bar for some pub trivia recently, I noticed a large group gathered on the other side of the room. These folks were not present to trade their knowledge of minutia for a handful of dollars. Instead, it appeared as though they were having a baby shower. At a bar.

That idea was disconcerting enough, but their event culminated in something even worse: a gender reveal. If you’re not familiar with this relatively new trend, it’s an event wherein the gender of a baby is revealed, often in a “fun” or “clever” way. To quote Wikipedia’s examples:

Often, it employs the trope of pink (denoting a female) or blue (denoting a male), perhaps hidden inside a cake or piñata. When the cake is cut or the piñata is opened, the color popularly associated with the baby’s sex is revealed.

This particular gathering utilized a large, opaque ballon. When they were ready to unveil what sort of genitals a forthcoming infant would have, the balloon was popped, and guests were showered in blue confetti. The whole thing was more than a little silly, and the venue for it was poorly chosen, but it was just after the pop that they really lost me. You see, when it was finally revealed that the woman was expecting a boy, a large percentage of the guests cheered. They cheered as if for a game-winning touchdown or the playing of a band’s biggest hit, live in concert. They cheered, and I honestly can’t understand the mindset. Were these people rooting specifically for a boy? I doubt it. Surely, they would have cheered for any outcome at all, like complete and utter simpletons.

Gender reveal parties have always been inane, but more recently, they’ve proven themselves to be terribly dangerous. In fact, gender reveal stunts may well be the single most dangerous activity mankind has ever devised. In 2017, a gender reveal explosion caused a 45,000 acre forest fire leading to over $8 million in damages. A recently released NTSB report has indicated that a gender reveal stunt led to a plane crash in September. Just last month, a gender reveal pipe bomb killed a woman. Perhaps it’s time for the government to step in, to safeguard the citizenry from themselves, and their idiot neighbors.

In closing, please allow this post to serve as a warning that if you invite me to your gender reveal party, I will boo the result, regardless of what it is.

Illegal Parking Is a Peanut Butter Jelly Crime 

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Earlier this month, officials at the University of Alaska’s Anchorage campus gave students an amusing way to pay off their parking tickets: peanut butter and jelly. In lieu of cash payments, students could provide peanut butter or jelly to cover their fines. The food would then go to other students in need. That’s a nice enough idea, but there are some definite problems with the exchange rate:

Officials say two 16-ounce (454-gram) jars offer a $10 credit, three jars offer a $35 credit and five jars offer a $60 credit.

Working out the math, that means one jar is worth three different amounts:

  • $5: At the $10 credit level, $10/2 jars = $5.

  • $11.67: At the $35 credit level, $35/3 jars ≈ $11.67.

  • $12: At the $60 credit level, $60/5 jars = $12.

The difference between the $35 credit level and the $60 credit level is minimal enough, but you’re really getting screwed at the $10 level. Given how much everything costs in Alaska, it seems possible students would actually be losing money if they’re only getting $5 per jar.

Algorithm Accountability 

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

The recent word is that Apple’s new credit card has been providing women with substantially lower credit limits than men. Once a single viral Twitter thread raised this issue, breathless “Apple is sexist!” pieces quickly popped up across the web. With precious little data, however, it’s not yet clear if this specific concern is even valid.

The problem, however, is that it could be true, and it wouldn’t even require malicious intent. A credit card issuer could be “sexist” (or “racist”, or biased in countless other ways), without even intending to be. This is the result of a much broader issue, namely the black box nature of how too much of society now operates.

In the past decade or two, secret, unaccountable algorithms have taken control of far too many decisions which impact our lives. Mathematician and writer Cathy O’Neil discussed this broader problem with Slate, in a piece well worth reading. Perhaps a story about the failures of Apple (and Goldman Sachs) is how we push things forward to better transparency when utilizing algorithms. Here’s hoping.

No Wall Lasts Forever 

Monday, November 11th, 2019

In commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago, a pro-democracy nonprofit in Germany has sent Donald Trump a not-so-little gift.

Not a Great Gig 

Friday, November 8th, 2019

A headline like “Rudy Hires New Lawyers To Stand By Helplessly And Watch Him Admit To Crimes On Twitter” is really just a delight to read. If you enjoy that story, don’t miss “Rudy Giuliani Prepares For One Million Legal Cases By Firing His Lawyer” either.

Give This a Try at the Office 

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

Meet Jingang, the horse who avoids being ridden by playing dead.

A Lonely Little Soul 

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

When a raptor couldn’t quite hold on to its attempted meal, the prey wound up dropped in a rural Australian backyard. There, an unnamed resident found what they believed was a stray dog, until a DNA test came back.


Wandi, the purebred alpine dingo

I would like to have a hawk drop something like this in my lap too.

Intuit Is Scum 

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

In addition to lobbying to keep taxes in America complicated, the tax prep industry is also working to make free filing difficult and unpopular.