The Hustle

Copyrighting clown makeup involves a lot of eggs

Welcome to the Clown Egg Registry.


September 23, 2020

As one recent tweet taught us, clowns have a unique way to make sure their makeup doesn’t match a competitor’s.

Since 1946, they’ve laid claim to their designs by painting them on eggs.

To make a clown, you’ve got to paint a few eggs

When you sign up to be a member of the major clown trade group, Clowns International, your first step is to document your makeup.

When you send in the design, it goes to Debbie Smith, the official artist at Clowns International. Smith — who is herself a clown on the side — might spend up to 3 days painting a single egg.

In exchange, she’s paid just ~$20 a pop.

This clown IP isn’t government-sanctioned

The egg system is only recognized among clowns, not federal copyright law.

Once painted, the eggs travel to a special vault called the Clown Egg Registry, tucked away in a museum in London. There are currently ~240 eggs locked there.

Seem a bit low? That might be because the system isn’t foolproof: Hundreds of previous clown eggs were accidentally lost or destroyed sometime in the 1960s.

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