Skip to comments.UPS threatens to sue over 'noxious' gay doll
Posted on 01/04/2002 5:50:14 AM PST by Lorenb420
An online retailer of a gay doll resembling a United Parcel Service delivery man is refusing to pull the product, despite a threat by the courier giant to take it to court for trademark infringement.
The Billy Parcel Service (BPS) doll carries a package and wears a brown uniform with a UPS-like logo. It costs US$45.95 at BeProud.com, North America's leading online retailer of gay products.
It is the newest product in a line of dolls marketed to gay men. The other muscular 13-inch plastic figures wear generic uniforms of other "American heroes" -- the policeman, fireman, soldier, sailor and baseball player.
"The UPS delivery man has been elevated to the level of American hero, or the American icon. The company should be flattered," Audy Morgan, BeProud.com's co-owner, said yesterday.
Customers can buy a white BPS doll (Billy), Latino (Carlos) or black (Tyson).
UPS is not amused. Norman Black, company spokesman, said the company will sue the California retailer if it continues to ignore requests to stop selling the product.
The company has also requested all unsold merchandise be handed over for destruction.
"This particular product is a very clear infringement on our trademark, on our brand. It's not a generic policeman. It's not a generic fireman. It's very explicitly a UPS delivery man and that's an unacceptable use of our brand," Mr. Black said.
Thomas Curtin, trademark counsel for UPS, has written two letters to the retailers.
"No matter how humorous your company may consider the noxious 'BPS' Billy doll, that product creates an undesirable, unwholesome and unsavoury association with our client's well-known trademarks" -- the UPS logo and brown uniform, he wrote in a recent letter.
The "objectionable" product is advertised as being "'anatomically complete' and, we note, the doll is grotesquely so," Mr. Curtin stated.
Mr. Morgan said he is unmoved by the threat of legal action, which he says has fueled online sales in Canada and the United States.
Mr. Morgan said the similarities "are necessary to pull off the UPS parody. We're doing a parody here."
UPS is nearly 100 years old and has annual revenues of around US$30-billion. It is the world's largest package delivery service and operates in 200 countries.
The UPS delivery man, and his brown uniform, have become known in popular culture as a sexy, straight man after whom women lust.
For example, in Legally Blonde, a recent Reese Witherspoon movie, Paulette, the manicurist, gushes every time the UPS delivery man enters her beauty shop to drop off a package.
Mr. Black said UPS decides how to market the company. "We take very seriously the protection of our brand in any form. You can't operate globally without building and maintaining a recognizable brand."
Mr. Morgan said UPS's objection amounts to a double standard. "It's their right to have a double standard. It's their company. Whether or not it is advantageous to exercise those rights, that's a question they need to ask themselves. When something comes up that may be more risqué to a select clientele, that's also exposure to UPS and it's not negative exposure to UPS."
The Billy doll was created in 1994 in London by English fashion designer John McKitterick.
He originally created it as a limited collectible item for an AIDS benefit, but mass produced it because it was so popular. The product arrived in North American in 1997.
Mr. McKitterick's Totem International trademarked Billy as "The World's First Out and Proud Gay Doll" and his companion Carlos as "The World's First Out and Proud Boyfriend."
Buddy Tyson, the black doll, was launched in 1999. Boxer Mike Tyson and supermodel Tyson Beckford threatened to sue the manufacturer.
I think it is funny.
I had a brief stint as a "provisional" UPS driver on a route in Central Brooklyn. I can neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of that statement, but will note that the uniform IS an indication of a steady, good paying job. In many neighborhoods, that's about all the aphrodisiac one needs... 8^)
Yikes! "Careful dude, Tyson might bite your ear off!"
uniform = paycheck = aphrodisiac. You're right! ;-)
That is why there will never be a Homeless Gay Doll.
If one overlooks the market segment these dolls would be hot collectors items with straight guys. Who else but a gay toy manufacturer would market guy dolls in "hero" roles. A fitting tribute to Sept. 11th. Showing off a shelf full of heroes seems like the thing a true patriot collector would do.
.He also as one with a bullet riddled church sign on it. Now who would do such a thing? ;)
When you absolutely, positively have to get some overnight...
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