13 October 2011

Trade Mark battle over 'keep calm' phrase

It is not often that trade marks appear on breakfast TV, but in September several minutes were allocated to a battle which has broken out over the well known wartime phrase "Keep calm and carry on"

The registered phrase has been used by companies on a variety of products - so who owns the phrase?

The phrase was coined in 1939 for use on leaflets and posters to encourage the British people to, indeed, keep calm and carry on in wartime conditions, but it was never actually used. A UK based company Keep Calm and Carry On Ltd asserts EU wide trade mark rights in the slogan Keep Calm and Carry On - having failed to register the slogan as a UK trademark, the company succeeded in registering it as a Community trade mark. Now a dispute has broken out, because Simply Printing 4 U, a Dorset start-up by Kerry Cade, has been told by e-Bay that they cannot sell their mugs, mouse mats and posters on the site because of the registration by Keep Calm and Carry On.

On 19 September 2011 an application was submitted to cancel Keep Calm and Carry On Ltd's CTM trade mark by online intellectual property adviser, Trade Mark Direct. “I think there are strong grounds given that so many people use the slogan,” says Kate McCormick of Trade Mark Direct. 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. Everyone needs to calm down, says Mr Coop of Keep Calm and Carry On Ltd , who fears for his safety after receiving emails saying things like: “You should be lined up and shot.”

Meanwhile, the issue seems unlikely to do more than encourage others to ‘jump on the band wagon’, as we note that a new Community trade mark application was filed 22 September by an unrelated party for the words and crown logo for mobile phone and laptop accessories…

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