Newell Brands cancel Mongol pencil trademark

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Mongol pencils

On October 15, 2021, the US Patent and Trademark Office published the news that Newell Brands had cancelled their trademark for one of the world’s most famous pencil brands, the Mongol.

Eberhard Faber IV was interviewed by Sean Malone, and Mr. Faber suggested that the name came from Purée Mongole soup. An update notes this story as being apocryphal.

(I’m really happy that Contrapuntalism remains online, though at a different address. It has a remarkable sixty posts that mention the Mongol pencil!)

I reached out to Newell, but did not hear back. They spoke to me last year about the Mirado, but I didn’t hear back about the Mongol.

So why the cancellation? I don’t know, but I’ll speculate that in 2021 Newell don’t want a trademark that can readily be interpreted as an ethnocultural or racial term.

There are still Mongol pencils in other countries – Colombia, the Philippines, and Venezuala.

Truly the end of an era, this pencil brand will not be quickly forgotten.

Mongol trademark

Ninoy and Cory Aquino Mongol pencils

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Out of thousands of pencil brands, are there any with a more devoted national following than the Mongol brand has in the Philippines?

A 1999 stamp issued by the Philippine Postal Corporation commemorated the Mongol’s 50th anniversary in the country:

Philippines stamp of Mongol pencil

Wikipilipinas claims that the Mongol name is now synonymous for “pencil” in the Phillipines!

And a search for “Mongol pencil” via Google reveals that the brand is still very active in that country. In fact, it is more than active – how many countries have national literacy campaigns with celebrity endorsements, issuing woodcase pencils as their symbol?

Please see Celebs join Mongol pencil advocacy for details.

The Mongol name comes from the former Eberhard Faber pencil company in the US. I don’t know what year was the last for the Mongol in the US. In 2005, Woodchuck mentioned the continued existence of the Mongol name in Venezuela.

It turns out the pencils were also being made under license by Ampsec in the Philippines.

An online store in the US started selling the Amspec version. In 2007, pencil talk compared them with the original Mongol.

The only full online review of the Amspec version is at the now defunct Blyantsiden blog.

While I can’t read Norwegian, I do understand “2/6”, and don’t disagree.

So at some point Amspec stopped making the Mongol, though the brand didn’t disappear – it is now distributed by Star Paper. Noticeably absent is the statement that the pencil is made in the Philippines. On the other hand, Newell-Rubbermaid’s name achieves new prominence.

A comment at Timberlines suggests the pencil may in fact be imported from Venezuela!

Ninoy and Cory Aquino Mongol pencils

So keeping in mind the special role that the Mongol pencil has in Philippine culture, we have a truly unique offering – a limited edition Mongol from the “iamninoy-iamcory” campaign, which is sponsored by the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation.

Ninoy and Cory Aquino Mongol pencils

Ninoy was a prominent opposition leader, assassinated in 1983. His spouse Corazon (Cory) eventually ousted the Marcos regime, restoring democracy. National heroes, this pencil is endorsed by their daughter Kris Aquino. The pencil is truly rich in political and national themes.

Ninoy and Cory Aquino Mongol pencils

The association of a pencil brand with charitable, educational, and political causes at this level appears unprecedented. The Mongol pencil seems to truly be loved in the Philippines!