Keep Calm and Campaign On @bbcbreakfast #Keepcalmandcarryon

This morning on @bbcbreakfast (8.20am), the story was broadcast re Mark Coop’s (successful, so far) attempt to trademark ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ within the EU (as applied to the items he sells: t-shirts, mugs, etc.).

Mark Cooper owns, which as you can see has capitalised hugely on the slogan:

On TV this morning he said:

Having quit the day job, and put my life and soul into this, and build it up, and then rely on it for my livelihood, I have to protect my own interests, you know, and faced with the risk of losing everything that you’ve worked for, I’d find it hard that other people wouldn’t do the same thing.

Apparently someone has to provide “evidence of use”…. He then said, and the bit that gets to me:

Had I not built this up, they probably would have never have heard of it, you know, they would never have, you know, even seen it, so I think they are jumping on the back of essentially what I came up with

Note that even on his site (yes, he was the first to register the domain name, and that’s his entrepreneurialism…), he (has had to) recognise that the history of it is taken from my 1997 undergraduate dissertation (and I then wrote more on it in my PhD, which I have made available under Creative Commons attribution licence):

Now bring into the argument that Barter Books were the ones to ‘discover’ the poster in a box in 2000, starting the first reprints in 2001, and the first to start producing facsimile posters/t-shirts, etc., and that (as far as I am aware) Mark Coop doesn’t own an original of the poster: for years carried the information that I had written for my dissertation on the site with no credit, but Barter Books have always credited my information:

Note that this information emerged from several years of research, which have involved my research time, my intellectual capacity (such as it may be), and costs for e.g. travel to the archives/photocopies/laptop to record data/web hosting costs, etc. (believe me research is not cheap, and is usually only repaid in terms of ‘reputation building’ which creates job opportunities). I have been featured in a number of press articles talking about the poster, but have not sought to capitalise financially upon this (although any items with the slogan or derivatives upon it welcomed for my collection!!), although I thought about a t-shirt/hoodie with the history written on the back. This is partly because I DON’T own an original of the poster, and am unclear about the legal status of the design. The design is Crown Copyright, which only lasts for 50 years (the @I_W_M administers this, so could tell us more), but as I understand it, you need an original to produce copies (the parodies are another matter)…

Morally and ethically, however, I think this stinks, big time.. as noted by the New York Times!! There are people with a much better claim to trademarking this, including the IWM, Barter Books, and me, but I, at least, am far too interested in the story!! We’re in a Web 2.0 world, where collaboration, acknowledgement, etc. are all-important, and this flies in the face of all this…

To note also… the Wikipedia page on this… which took me four attempts to register any information. Someone else (one of the newspapers… see also Nigel Rees used my information without attribution), had taken my information (one of the times I’m thankful to the Daily Express for alerting me) without credit, and I had to delve in amongst my research for ‘new’ information (I think I may have some more, but I need to earn a living (@bigbible @digitalfprint, @blwinch), so this gets a little neglected…

There’s an e-campaign, and a number of counter-claims (Trade Mark Direct; Freelance UK), to overturn this … I’d say “Keep Calm and Campaign On”.

My Twitter and my Facebook has certainly been busy with people contacting me this morning, and #Keepcalmandcarryon and ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ are both quite busy!

Wonder what else I’ll think of to post, as soon as this blog post goes live… comments welcomed, people!!


By Second World War Posters

Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.

33 replies on “Keep Calm and Campaign On @bbcbreakfast #Keepcalmandcarryon”

Have you considered contacting BBC news to have your voice heard as well? I would if I were you. And possibly some other news outlets / papers that are likely to pick up on the story.

i thought if I wrote my post, I could then send the link to this… I’m in Premier, maybe I’ll start with their newsdesk!!

Dr Bex,

Kerry Cade as featured on the BBC was shocked when Mr Coop took action to prevent her from selling mechandise with the iconic Keep Calm and Carry On image.

It is understood the image was in the Public Domain due to its herritage.

It seems very under-handed of Mr Coop to selfishly, out of greed, attempt build a business through the EU around a slogan that the British public have taken to heart in these dark financial times – completely against the message of the original image.

What is also a concern is that Kerry was victim that Mr Coop approached but the first to go public with his miss-claim.

Kerry is available on if you would like a coment from her.

Wooohey thank you! Someone speaking some sense and knowing the true history about this phrase! When I was at university in 2007, I bought this poster from the Barter Book’s online website, as I was browsing their site for a book. Then I came across a clothing company called Yes No Maybe, who it seems have been making clothing with the phrase and design for years.

As much as the phrase has been bastardised beyond belief which makes me half tempted to take my poster down, that interview with Mark Coop just shows how ignorant and greedy he is. It’s not his property to trade mark, and the comparison to Ronseal’s “Does exactly what it says on the tin” is a poor one. Ronseal invented that phrase, and it became common place. The Ministry of Information and Crown’s Stationer developed Keep Calm, not Mark.

And Mark has only been a Limited company since 2009 –

So he’s talking a load of bull.

So person A has a good idea of printing this iconic phrase and making a living from it.
Person B then decides they will just copy this to get some ‘easy’ money.
When person A naturally wants to protect his business everyone sees him as the greedy corporation and her as the poor little start up. Really?? She should think herself lucky he doesn’t take it further.
Come on! Where would it end if everyone wanted a piece of this business idea???

Person B would happen to be Mark Coop if you read this story fully!! Person A is Barter Books … or the British Govt/Imperial War Museum/Me…

Thanks, I read the story and watched the BBC clip.
As an outsider looking in HM Governement created the slogan as war propaganda. Their ‘trademark rights’ go after 50 years.
Barter Books rediscovered it and created various bits on an ad hoc basis for customers.
Mark Coop then began a business solely on this slogan / phrase. As such he filed for trademark to protect his business; wouldn’t you?
Barter Books could have done the same. Surely if his trademarking rights were ‘illegal’ they would have been refused.

But he’s trademarking on the basis that “without him no one would have heard of this” which is complete rubbish! The law is not always OK!

That I agree with. What do Barter Books think of this? Perhaps they should intervene?
I know nothing of any background behind this other than the BBC story and a bit of Googling.
I will be interested to see how the appeal works out.
This will not affect similiar phrasing such as Keep Calm and Party On or Shop On will it?

Barter Books have put a comment on here: It’s expensive to fight back… I’ve also been talking to YesNoMaybeLtd, and they are currently putting together a blog post for this site.

No background? That’s because journalists can be slack researchers!! It’s the ‘wartime spirit’ that has made this design significant in the 21st Century, re: the recession…. I’m following with interest, but I hope the appeal overturns it. Apparently it only applies to specific goods (because we wondering if I ever actually get round to writing my book, it would affect me!)

This guy has been selling these items for a number of years, why has it taken so long for people to kick off about it.
Frankly this type of entrepreneurialism is exaclty what this country needs during these desperate times. Infact it optimises the exact spirit of the poster.

He should be applauded for coming up with a business idea, and taking risks to pursue his dreams. He’s paying taxes on his profits after all.

I think a lot of people are simply jealous.

No one is objecting to the fact that he is selling the items, but to his trademarking them… they are not his to trademark. There are far too many precedents of people using it before him. Another seller was selling before him and sought legal advice (as Mark Coop copied his site, spelling errors included, apparently) and was told a) it belongs to the govt, if anyone B) you can’t copyright a crown in the uk and c) you cant copyright the slogan. Hopefully I’ll have more on that soon…

Well I think good for him for coming up a with a business idea and going for it. It’s exactly this type of entrepreneurism that the country needs during these tough economic times.

the man should be applauded and his trademark protected.

But you can’t expect to his buisiness to contnue to be viable if other people can knock out goods using the same, currenlty trademarked, design.

Also, it was through his website that I orginally learnt of the existence of the poster, a few years ago! I do believe that had it not been through his business promotion it would never have gone “mainstream” like it has today. I was amazed when I started seeing posters etc. appear in the office more recently, and feared it was inevitable that people would begin selling “knock-offs” of his company’s merchanidse.

The design, however, was potentially illegally taken in the first place…. Story is that he bought one from Barter Books, removed their logo & started selling … He cannot be allowed to build a “viable” business by stamping other people’s IP/copyright … design is out of Crown Copyright, but where did Mark get his first image from ? I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t get into the ins & outs, but it just doesn’t add up AT ALL!

JC says:

“D. Double says:
September 22, 2011 at 6:06 pm

But you can’t expect to his buisiness to contnue to be viable if other people can knock out goods using the same, currenlty trademarked, design.”

D Double you need to ask:
1. Why didn’t Mr Coop apply for a UK copyright but instead go to the EU (based in Spain) where the history of this logo isn’t so well known?
2. If he has a EU Trademark for the wording “Keep Calm and Carry On” to protect his Ltd business, why has he not attempted to seek copyright over the actual iconic image and gain Intellectual Property protection of this image?

Clearly he’s takien the options to protect his business that he feels are most appropiate.

You know this all just seems so mean spirited to me, that there’s this whole campaign now to hurt a business thats has been built from scratch and been operating for years.
People start banding around words like “greedy.” Which I say is ridiculous, this a business. What business doesn’t want to protect it self from people copying their business model and cutting their market share?
It’s business.

I think, D.Double, this may be my last reply to you as I’m not sure you’ve taken on board anything I’ve said. To note that there are plenty of people who’s lives are composed of more than business, looking to conduct businesses ethically/morally, etc. If you do’n’t originate the business model, don’t use something that you’ve created, etc then .. Well, words fail me!

sorry guys, but an awful lot of nonsense is being talked about here. 1. there is probably no copyright in a short phrase, but there IS copyright in the typographic layout + crown of the poster; that copyright was HM Government’s and expired 50 years after first publication. 2. There is nothing to stop anyone obtaining a registered trade mark on something where copyright does not exist, or where it has expired. 3. But you cannot register a trade mark unless you have already been using it in the course of trade – I think Mr Coop applied for it before he started trading. 4. A trademark registration can be rejected if someone else who HAS been trading using it before the application was made objects – so Barter Books should be objecting.
So Mr Coop was not entitled to obtain his Registered Trade Mark in the UK, but it is only Barter Books who can get his registration deleted here. But if Barter Books had NOT been trading in other countries, and Mr Coop has started trading in them, Mr Coop is entitled to the Mark in those other countries.

“D. Double says:
September 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm

“…..You know this all just seems so mean spirited to me…. ”

D Double – you have hit the nail on the head here – I know this is a quote out of context but please ask yourself why Mr Coop is not challenging larger businesses but going after the smaller seller who were no real threat to him in the first place?

D. Double has missed the point here. I’m fairly confident that YesNoMaybe were selling Keep Calm merchandise well before Mr Coop. Who, in turn, asked Barter Books if they could use the fruits of their ‘find’.

Another example of EU interference in what is basically a UK trade matter. Very similar to the Patent Pirates that try to patent everything just in case anyone does come up with a valid idea. I wonder if the Cooperative Society will sue Mr Coop for infringement and use of their COOP trade name?

I run a gifts website and have presently a range of “Keep Calm & Carry On” items and do not see how an individual can copyright a phrase widely used in the public domain. The font is not unique and this individual has not brought anything new to the issue; frankly his items are overpriced hence his frantic attempts to stop other legitimate businesses from using it. It is just the same as a business using quotes from Shakespeare on products. Mr Coop does not ever mentioned that a UK copyright was actually refused and the sooner this EU copyright is overturned the better and everyone can use, benefit and appreciate our national heritage.

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