The famous keep calm and carry on poster is at the centre of a legal battle. The poster designed by the British government in 1939 has been granted copyrighted in the European Union to Mr Mark Coop. A previous application by Mr Coop was rejected in the UK courts on the grounds that Crown copyright expires after 50 years and the poster had already been in the public domain for sometime.
Mr Coop’s company Keep Calm and Carry On Limited was granted an EU trademark on the famous slogan in April 2011. Recently Mr Cooper has enforced his trademark buy requesting eBay ban sellers from marketing goods with the phrases. Mr Coop looks likely to be in legal dispute with bookshop owner Mr Manley, who originally rediscovered the poster 2001. Mr Manley, who found a rare original Keep Calm and Carry On poster in the attic of his shop Barter Books, has sold 100,000 copies of it since he confirmed with the Imperial War Museum that the design was out of copyright.
Mr Manley said: “We have never tried to copyright or trademark the design, and to be honest we didn’t want to. Lots of people have asked our permission to use the design over the years, and we have sent them our artwork, asking only for an acknowledgement on their products. “Mark Coop was by no means the first person to use the design, but when we wrote to him asking for an acknowledgement he just sent us a solicitor’s letter telling us to bugger off.”
But now an application to cancel Mr Coop’s trademark has been submitted to the EU by an intellectual property firm which claims the phrase is too widely used for one person to retain exclusive rights. Legal company ‘Trade Mark Direct‘, at its own cost, is fighting to have this Trademark revoked, not least because the phrase is part of the UK’s national heritage.
Simply Printing 4 U, a start-up Dorset company run by the wife of an Armed Forces Officer, which produced ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’ memorabilia, has been forced to cease trading on eBay due to the new trade mark registration.
Founder Kerry Cade said: “To be an Armed Forces family and to be told we cannot use what is essentially a British phrase feels like a real kick in the teeth. It’s a huge blow to our business”.
Meanwhile, there is also an internet campaign at keepcalmcampaign.co.uk calling on the “British war-time spirit to fight Mark Coop” and return the slogan to the British people. “How can a phrase from a wartime poster be copyrighted in 2011?” asks one.
We agree totally, if we tolerate this, what next? will Mr Coop trademark ‘We Shall Fight Them On The Beaches’! Once again it time for Britain to rise up and fight Europe!