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Keep Calm, But Cease and Dissist
September 25, 2011 3:09 PM   Subscribe

On the 25th March 2011, Mark Coop of 'Keep Calm and Carry On LTD' registered a trademark of the words Keep Calm and Carry On in an attempt to take control of the very British and now very famous, nostalgia invoking, wartime poster. The trademark has angered Barter Books (who discovered the poster), wartimeposters.co.uk (owners of an original poster) and Kerry Cade from Simply Printing 4U whose business was greatly affected by the trademark. Now, in true British Spirit, a group of wartime enthusiasts has come together in an attempt to overturn the trademark.

Leading expert on Second World War propaganda posters Dr Bex Lewis wades in on the kerfuffle. Original merchandisers Yes No Maybe also have their say. Previously on MeFi.
posted by The Discredited Ape (44 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Keep calm and carry on. Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us victory.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:12 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


KerfuffleTM
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:13 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Prior art?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:15 PM on September 25, 2011


Rent seeking.
posted by Grimgrin at 3:16 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


GarfuffleTM
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:17 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everything is for sale. Including your history.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:22 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I spelled desist incorrectly in the title of the thread, and now I am so ashamed that I am getting my lawyers to draft up a cease and desist letter addressed to myself.
posted by The Discredited Ape at 3:23 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


And here I thought it was a diss.

[NOT DISSIST]
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:24 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope they keep the trademark so that every lazy designer and printmaker out there is prevented from making anymore "Keep ____, and ______ On" posters.
posted by bradbane at 3:25 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good luck with keeping the mark. It's derivative of something under Crown copyright, and was already in wide use so cannot have developed a special meaning linking it to the holder in the mind of the public. Shouldn't have been issued, won't withstand scrutiny (or will be reduced to a mark that is insanely, insanely narrow - this might just about fly for a relaxing massage service, for example).
posted by jaduncan at 3:28 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't care who has the trademark as long I never see the poster on Apartment Therapy again.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:32 PM on September 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


I want a poster that says "Keep Calm and Carry On Ltd"
posted by memebake at 3:38 PM on September 25, 2011


Mind the ***
posted by Winnemac at 3:38 PM on September 25, 2011


Prior art?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:15 PM on September 25 [+] [!]


This is a trademark. Prior art is a concept of patent law, and has nothing to do with this case. You can be certain that there was plenty of produce sold under the name "Apple" before it became a notorious trademark.

This case was already briefly discussed in the IPKat IP blog, and the bloggers' tentative opinion was that it may be nullified, but because this slogan, as such, does not indicate a "trade origin", which is the whole purpose of a trademark:

The Kat has been asked if he thinks that the Community trade mark registration could be challenged on the grounds that the slogan (i) had been widely used in the UK for some years and (ii) would not be recognised, at least in the UK, as indicating trade origin. Provisionally the Kat thinks that there is no challenge per se under (i), since prior use is not a ground on which a CTM can be nullified unless it establishes that the mark is non-distinctive, descriptive or suffers from some other defect which would prevent the relevant consumer from associating it with the owner's goods or services. (ii) however -- if it can be substantiated -- could be fatal to the registration. Readers are welcome to share their comments, so long as they remember to keep calm ...

Interestingly, a quick look at the online register of Community (EU) trademarks shows that another joker has just filed an application to protect the poster's design (crown and all) as a figurative trademark (that is, a logo). The crown may in fact be an obstacle, since the use of official emblems in trademarks is usually a problem.
posted by Skeptic at 3:41 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


If Douglas Adams can't own "DON'T PANIC", then I don't think anybody should own that phrase either.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:42 PM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Considering that I've been seeing KCACO retro mashups for around ten years now (starting just after 9/11/01), I'm amazed that the trademark holder wasn't laughed out of the room for claiming ownership.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:43 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Carry on Up Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, starring Mark Coop as Major Blooming-Cheek. Ooer missus.
posted by Abiezer at 3:44 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have "Now Panic and Freak Out" as my BlackBerry condom. Seems more in keeping with the times.
posted by chavenet at 3:45 PM on September 25, 2011


This is a trademark. Prior art is a concept of patent law, and has nothing to do with this case.

Thanks, I always get them mixed up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:56 PM on September 25, 2011


Prior art is a concept of patent law, and has nothing to do with this case.

But what if it's a patently false trademark?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:01 PM on September 25, 2011


.

.
posted by oxala at 4:03 PM on September 25, 2011


Good luck with keeping the mark..Shouldn't have been issued, won't withstand scrutiny...

So everybody needs to stop getting worked up and just see the legal effort through to completion?

I wish there were some sort of pithy slogan that could help put these people in the right frame of mind to do that.
posted by PlusDistance at 4:16 PM on September 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd be interested to see what an actual legal expert had to say about it. It seems to me like he shouldn't be able to trademark the phrase: he wasn't the first to use it commercially, and he didn't attempt to establish a trademark until after it was in incredibly wide use. (And seriously, search for "Keep Calm" on Etsy if you don't believe me.) But I'm not an expert on British intellectual property law, so what do I know?

I think it's time for the meme to die, but I still think Mark Coop is utterly full of shit.
posted by craichead at 4:25 PM on September 25, 2011


Luckily, I trademarked Mark Coop years ago, during the War.
posted by ifandonlyif at 4:28 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm loving Kerry Cade's concern for the message of the poster (rather than her profits) and the integrity of the message, while selling shitty skewed and stretched versions of the poster plastered on bargain basement mugs at Last Minute Shit Xmas Gifts 4 U on eBay. At least the products Mark Coop sells look as if some thought and genuine care went into them.
posted by oxala at 4:31 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


My comment is in the context of a year of IP law at Cambridge. YMMV may differ as to if that qualifies, craichead.
posted by jaduncan at 4:45 PM on September 25, 2011


I want a poster that says "Keep Calm and Carry On Ltd"

Oh, where are the Basquiat paintings that have the words "MILK" and "SALT" with the copyright and trademark symbols?
posted by R. Mutt at 4:48 PM on September 25, 2011


Mark Coop just kind of seems like a tool in that BBC interview. Jesus.

Worried about your livelihood printing these posters that you didn't create? Keep calm and fuck off.
posted by chasing at 5:02 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's got an application pending in the US too, based on the EU (Community Trade Mark) registration. It's actually in the 30-day "opposition" period, when concerned third parties can try to stop the application from maturing into a registration. Wonder if that'll happen.
posted by schoolgirl report at 5:24 PM on September 25, 2011


I have "Now Panic and Freak Out" as my BlackBerry condom. Seems more in keeping with the times.

If you were keeping with the times you wouldn't have a BlackBerry.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:34 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dislike this "Keep Calm And Carry On" thing because it is nothing more than a limp and uninterested acknowledgement that things - as in, all things, from the structure of our governments to the tribulations of our own existences to the probable short-term fate of our very planet - are fucked beyond reason. Probably people with it on their coffee mugs are doing it ironically (I'm not convinced) but all that has really happened is somebody has found a way to market society's acquiescence. It's "I Was Fucked In The Ass* And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt", and people look at it and go, ha ha, yeah, I'm getting fucked in the ass too! Boy, it sure is a bother! O well! Off to the ass fucking factory!

(*Nothing wrong with ass fucking, I mean this in the same pejorative sense that we have for "screwed".)
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:41 PM on September 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Boy, it sure is stuffy in this ass fucking factory!"
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:42 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


All the jobs in this ass fucking factory have been in-sourced.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:55 PM on September 25, 2011


The ass-fucking factory is hiring? Can anybody hook me up?
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 6:13 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


something something Rust Belt
posted by penduluum at 6:20 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I want a poster that says "Keep Calm and Carry On Ltd"

I want a poster that says "Keep Calm and Carry On Up The Khyber". Not for myself, of course, and I don't know anyone I could give it to who would take it in the right spirit. But I still want one.
posted by Pinback at 7:08 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tried work at the ass fucking factory, but had trouble fitting in.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:26 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want a poster that says "Keep Calm and Carry On Up The Khyber".

Not "Keep Calm and Carry On Screaming"?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:08 PM on September 25, 2011


Ideefixe: "I don't care who has the trademark as long I never see the poster on Apartment Therapy again."

I'd buy the poster. It's helped me out of an anxiety attack or two. Reminds me to try to stay calm.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:20 PM on September 25, 2011


That's a nice red in the original poster.

I wonder if time has been true to it. Do colors fade over 70 years, even if the poster has been folded up inside a cared-for book? There are a lot of variations on the 'nets, too, hard to tell what is the real thing.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:43 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only variation that matters.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:57 AM on September 26, 2011


While drawing a somewhat red-misted response to the Mark Coop thing (apologies for blatant self-link), I came across the inevitable font issue - Gill Sans and Underground just don't quite do it - and discovered this wonderful free-for-non-commercial-use Keep Calm font.
posted by motty at 10:05 AM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


must.... resist.... contributing..... to jokey... arse-fucking.... factory.... derail.....

..........


..


Actually my class was scheduled to go visit the arse fucking factory for a school excursion. Unfortunately, when we arrived we were told that they had had to evacuate the factory due to the failure of a process control valve. We all went home feeling a little empty on the inside.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:34 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


chasing's comment in this thread was quoted (in screenshot form) in a decent summary post about the trademark issue over at The Awl.
posted by fings at 9:20 AM on October 10, 2011


« Older ...and this one actually looks respectable.   |   Walt Disney's "The Black Hole" Newer »


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