Occasionally this confusion pops up, so I thought that since the original site I’d linked to that explains all this has gone, I’d address this here.
Long story short….. there are 2 menstrual cups going by the name of “Mooncup”/”Moon cup”, and the “Mooncup” is the same as the “MCUK” but not the same as “Moon cup”. Clear as mud? 🙂
The original “Mooncup” product, which often now gets referred to as the “Mooncup UK”, was brought out in 2000 and is manufactured in the UK by The Mooncup Ltd. – www.mooncup.co.uk
In 2006, The Keeper Inc. (makers of the “Keeper” rubber cup) in the US brought out a silicone version of their cup, also calling it a “Moon Cup” (their trademark is registered with a space, although people often leave the space out), which gets called a “Moon cup US” by some people, to help distinguish it from the UK one – www.keeper.com.
Since both companies have the trademark for the name in their respective countries (more on that below), when the Keeper inc. started selling their “Moon Cup”, the original UK “Mooncup” was not able to be sold to the US due to the trademark issue (and presumably vice versa). So in 2011 Mooncup UK started calling their cups destined for the US market the “MCUK” – which allowed them to be sold there, making a separate section of their website to allow US customers to buy their cups under this new name – http://www.mooncup.co.uk/how-to-order/mcuk-online-shop.html.
Why did Keeper Inc. bring out a cup and name it the same thing as another brand already out there? Well…. some people feel they did it to try and take some of the Mooncup UK market, and there has been a lot of ill will towards the Keeper as a result. For example, early on, the Keeper website appeared to use meta tags that used the term “mooncup” before they were selling cups under that name – which meant that searching for a Mooncup would also bring up the Keeper website.
The timeline goes like this:
August – The domain name http://www.mooncup.co.uk was registered to Mooncup UK. I’m not sure when the cups were available for sale, but I would assume sometime not long after.
January – The Keeper inc. registered the domain http://www.themooncup.com February 25th – The Keeper inc. submitted an application to trademark the name “MOON CUP” in the US.
October – The Keeper inc. registered the domain http://www.mooncup.com Nov 12th – Mooncup (UK) submitted an application to trademark the name “MOONCUP” in the UK.
The domain registration was contested – info on that here – but the findings were basically that there was no proof the domains were being used in bad faith, and that registering a domain name does not by default grant you sole use of the name. The hearing commented that if anyone held a legal right to the name, it would be the Keeper given that they applied for the trademark first.
On August 1st the Silicone Keeper/”Moon Cup” was first discovered for sale by people in the cup community. Though it took a while before The Keeper Inc. actually acknowledged it was their cup, so it caused a lot of confusion with people not knowing what was going on, and buying the US Moon Cup thinking it was a UK Mooncup.
Mooncup UK submitted a trademark application for “MCUK“
So as the timeline shows, Mooncup UK was without a doubt the first to actually publicly use the name, and to sell a product with that name. However, The Keeper Inc. were first in submitting their trademark application. I don’t know how trademark law works in regard to how you determine which trademark is considered to be “first” – whether it goes by the application date, or the date it is granted (I would assume the latter).
The Mooncup UK trademark appears to have been granted on 05 March 2004, and the Keeper Inc. trademark underwent a lot of extensions and seems to have been registered on the 31st Jan 2006. Which (if I am reading that correctly) means that Mooncup UK actually got their trademark approved first. Although that’s just semantics, and it actually makes no difference who got the name first (from a legal standpoint, ethically I think it does).
Since a trademark only protects the name in the country you register it in (generally your home country, unless you also register it in other countries), which is why it is possible for a name to be trademarked in different countries to different people – giving a situation like this where there are 2 products both with the same trademarked name.
Either way, it created a confusing situation – with a lot of people not understanding that there are 2 different cups from 2 different companies, but that one of the cups had 2 different names, depending on where you live. All of that would have been solved if the Keeper Inc. had just called their silicone cup a “Keeper Clear” or something, rather than calling it a Moon Cup.
I keep meaning to take photos of the newer Mooncup UK cups, as I only had the older versions.
The newer cups are much more of a “white” clear (not the yellowed colour they were before), the silicone feels a bit softer and is frosted. They now have grip lines all over the stem.
The holes are now in the edge of the ridge (before they were just under it)
This shows the old and new cups together
Some of the cup companies are involved in charity donations.
Femmecup has been donating to various charities. Including providing cups to women in Uganda and to New Zealand following the earthquakes.
Donates a softcup to a girl in Africa for every box of softcups sold.
In 2012 Juju donated 1000 cups to Days for Girls, and has donated cups to homeless women
Each year a portion of profits is given to each Mooncup team member, who chooses a charity to donate it to.
Mpower do charitable works in South Africa.
My Own Cup
Has the “Inkululeko Project” which donates cups to schoolgirls in South Africa.
Menstrual Cup Donation projects
People can purchase cups which are then donated (or can be delivered if you’re traveling in areas where they are needed). Seemingly using the Cheap Chinese cups.
Looks like Lunette, RubyCup and Mooncup might be donating to this cause.
Distributing Ruby Cups in Nepal
Mooncup (UK) recently blogged about why their cup will never be coloured.
“Would you like crushed beetle with your menstrual cup, madam?”
(or Why the Mooncup Will Always be Dye-Free)”
“We are also committed to offering a product that is vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Many natural colourings are animal-derived, such as carmine/cochineal (E120 – red, purple, pink) made from crushed beetles; shellac (E904) from insect secretions; gelatine (orange) made from animal bones and L-Cysteine (E920), sometimes made from hair or feathers.
Call us boring(!), but we’re not willing to compromise our ethical status for a non-essential additive with a dubious health and ethical history.”
(My thoughts about their post are at the bottom of this article)
Which sparked some discussion on the topic here: http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com/2742047.html, given that part of their reasoning included the use of non-vegan things as food colours (despite the fact cups aren’t consumed and some of their examples aren’t actually used as food colours anyway)
JuJu has the following in their FAQ:
“Does JuJu come in any other colour?
At this point in time, JuJu is only available in a clear/semi-opaque colour. Until such time as we are able to gain an accurate understanding of the effects of the addition of dyes on our bodies, we have chosen to manufacture JuJu without any colour additives.”
But it is an interesting topic.. I have e-mailed some of the the cup companies offering coloured cup (Iriscup, CupLee, Ladycup Lunette, MeLuna, Miacup, and Shecup) to ask them about the colours and see what they have to say on the matter, and I’ll update this post when I’ve heard back from any 🙂 In the meantime, feel free to discuss!
— edit —
I’ve heard back from a couple of the cup companies. MeLuna was the only company who actually sent me any information regarding the safety aspect of the coloured cups.
They of course said the colours are safe 🙂 but sent me several pdf files of their test results to help prove this – which shows the testing of both the colours (first file) and the general cup material. Interestingly, I believe it’s saying that the plastic the cups are made from was tested on animals (presumably as part of checking the plastic is safe for use with people), as is referenced in the last file. I’d never thought about that being a component of testing, and I wonder if the other cups have been likewise tested.
Meluna_Masterbatches_Safety sheet – Info on the colours – they are food safe (though that doesn’t mean they are “food colours” like you’d use to make a cake blue)
THERMOLAST_M_englisch – Information on the plastic material the cups are made from (from the manufacturer I presume)
TM4MED_ISO10993-5 -Seems to be a certificate of a testing where the material was left in contact with the equivalent of human tissue and checked to see if it was reactive (it shows no reaction, whereas latex showed reactions).
TM4MED_USP661 – Information on a few tests that were run (I admit, I don’t really understand most of it heh)
TM4MED_USPVI – Test result certificate
Said they would get back to me in a few days. Never did.
Said they will issue a public statement on it (not sure if they did at the time, but they have posted on facebook to say what I’ve quoted below), and that they would contact me again in a few days – which they did, saying they have forwarded my e-mail to their head office. They say they realise it’s an important issue, so they are gathering information from their experts and will get back to me. (But they never got back to me)
However, their website says this about the coloured cups:
Yes, colored Lunette menstrual cups are safe to use. The dye we use in our colored cups is FDA approved for medical and food use. The colors don’t contain heavy metals (e.g. lead, chromium VI, cadmium, mercury) or phatalats. Lunette menstrual cups contain only small amounts of colorpaste. The type of dye used in Lunette menstrual cups are inside the silicone so it’s not possible for the color to leach like with some cheaper dyes which are also used in menstrual cups.”
They also say that their coloured cups are FDA approved, but not TGA approved: (Link)
“The colored Lunette cups are not TGA approved. TGA listing is a very long and costly process, and all of our colored cups are limited edition products.”
However I contacted the TGA, who told me that because the coloured versions are still the same product (only difference being the colour), they are covered under the same TGA approval that the clear ones are. So the coloured cups are TGA approved too.
Said that as far as they know, the colours they were polling people on (see this post) plus clear and grey are the only colours that are already tested and approved by FDA… and that other colours (like purples and whatnot) would need to go through the process of testing and approval.
I believe (from talking to a well respected cup retailer) that while the clear Sckoon cup has FDA approval, the individual coloured cups are made with FDA approved silicone, but those cups are not actually individually FDA approved.
Now, I don’t know the safety aspects of having colourants in cups – which is why I asked the cup companies, and frankly, the fact that so few of them responded, makes me think that nobody is really sure other than a “FDA approves them so therefore they must be safe” type thought. Which may be comforting for some people, it may not help others.
When I was looking up the Animal testing info for medical grade silicone, I did see a chart from one of the companies that showed the colours that the silicone could be made in, and I think they were considered food-safe colours.
There definitely is merit to the argument that a clear cup is safer for you and better for the environment – absolutely.
Be aware though that there is a “white” pigment, so a cup with a more “whitish” appearance than “clear” may actually have a white colour added. Cups from companies who don’t do coloured cups are unlikely to add a white pigment, but companies who offer colours including a “white” may be adding the white pigment.
I’d like to address 2 points of Mooncup’s statements.
Firstly, yes some synthetic food colours can and have been shown to have adverse effects on the human body. However there is a difference in how things are absorbed and processed by the body when they are ingested compared to skin exposure. We’re not eating our menstrual cups, so comparing food and coloured cups isn’t quite the same thing.
I’m not saying that food colours are completely safe when used in a cup, but it isn’t the same as directly eating them. The same sort of argument could also be had for coloured plastic lunchboxes and other products we use regularly. People talk about the dangers of BPA etc. but what about other things in there like whatever colours them?
The safety issue with coloured cups is whether or not any of those coloured pigments can cause any health problems? can they have an effect when added to the silicone and made into cups? and if those colours are properly embedded into the silicone and can’t leech out?
— that is something I don’t have the answer to 😦
But Mooncup mentions natural colourants too…. basically saying that their product is vegan-friendly so they would not use natural colourant either.
Which some people have interpreted as implying that other coloured cups may contain “crushed beetle” and other animal derived natural colourants.
But the thing is, natural colourants are horrendously expensive compared to synthetic ones. (Cochineal, which is derived from beetles, is quite expensive, much more so than plant based red colourants). They are also not as vibrant (so you need more of them), and aren’t always as colourfast (can fade/degrade over time).
They simply are a more expensive and far less practical source of colourant than synthetic ones. It is unlikely that anyone would use a natural colourant when a more stable and far cheaper synthetic one exists, unless it’s for food or something where the natural aspect actually matters more than expense and durability.
Silicone may have natural elements, but it is not a “natural” product and is manufactured in a lab. I highly doubt that as they are pouring chemicals into a vat, they go “ohh, we better add some natural colourant, so our product can be more natural” 😛 Even if they wanted to, it’s going to add more expense, more variance (batch to batch wouldn’t necessarily have the exact same result) and isn’t going to produce something that is as good as if they used the synthetic colourant. They just wouldn’t do that.
Yes, the coloured cups may (should be) be using “Food-Safe” colourants. But there’s not going to be any crushed beetle in your cups!
— Having said that, there is one cup that claims to use natural colouring. Pinkcopa. As you can see though, the colour is unusual. I did ask what they used as colourant, but they didn’t tell me.
I have both the size “A” and size “B”
Testing it out – I felt the ridges more inserting it… more than the Diva….and a lot more than Lunette or Lady Cup. Not uncomfortably so, I just felt the ridges more…. I tried inserting it while on the toilet and while lying on the bed… I felt it a lot more when on the toilet. The actual rim of mooncup is thicker than the other cups, which may be what it is…but its only a thing I noticed because of trying all 3, and it certainly wasn’t Uncomfortable… just less comfortable than the others. The stem (when untrimmed) pokes quite a lot…. its very annoying when you go to the toilet as it gets in the way of wiping (it pokes out of the vagina on me), and sitting was painful, as it jabbed me more. I wear the Lunette untrimmed as I don’t need to trim it, I could at a pinch wear the Diva untrimmed, though I would trim it to make it more comfortable… but I would absolutely trim the Mooncup stem as it’s too annoying and uncomfortable to use with the full stem….. but most people trim the stems anyway. So apart from the stem, it felt no different in wearing than the other cups. The outside collected more blood in that rim part than the Lunette does (the same as the other cups with pronounced rims). The holes weren’t as hard to clean as the Diva, they came clean quickly. The bottom of the inside was not as easy to clean as I’d thought a flat bottom would be, but easier to get into than the Diva, because the Diva is quite narrow at the bottom. The smaller Mooncup (“B”) didn’t feel noticeably different to the larger (“A”) at all. I tried cutting the stem in half on my extra sample (they accidentally sent me 2 lots), and it wasn’t uncomfortable after that. So I’d be pretty happy with it cut in half to 2/3 off… though I still prefer the flat tab stems. I find the yellowed colour of the silicone a bit offputting…. it resembles that old stickytape….
Gear – they come in a cotton pouch – looks like calico or some unbleached natural cotton with their logo on, and different coloured ribbons for the size of cup. I believe bought versions come in a recycled cardboard box. With a small booklet of instructions in different languages, and I got pamphlets, which are nicely presented.
Personal observations – I haven’t had all that much correspondence with Mooncup, I asked for a sample, and they sent it. I have on one other occasion e-mailed them (over something with their website), and had a pleasant response.
I’ve rated all the cups I’ve tried. They can be found here: https://menstrualcups.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/my-comparisons-and-ratings
Country of origin: UK
Composition: Medical Grade Silicone
Sizes: A & B (A = After childbirth, B = Before childbirth)
Dimensions: B = 4.3cm width. A = 4.6cm width. Both have 5cm length plus 2.1cm long stem.
Capacity: Size B = 13mls (to under airholes), Size A = 15mls (to airholes)
Stem: Hollow tube
Measuring Lines: Yes (inside), Cup B marks 6mls and 12mls, and Cup A 7.5mls and 15mls
Cost (RRP): GBP$18.99 (including International postage at official site)[Currency Converter]
Been around since: 2000
Unique Design?: Semi-Unique (This cup design appears to have been created by this brand. However it does have resemblances to other brands)
Other Details: Registered with the Vegan Society (Vegan approved). “Original Mooncup” (first cup to be given that name). Pay attention to the look of the product and packaging when buying from online stores to make sure you are buying the Mooncup you intend to (as there are other brands of cup using this name). Often known as “Mooncup (UK)” or “MCUK” to help distinguish it as the Original UK version. Original version was a slightly yellowed silicone, and had 2 grip lines near the base of the stem. The updated version has grip lines all down the stem and is a whiter silicone.