Anorak News | Keep Calm And Carry On: Stuarts Take On Mark Coop Over Wartime Slogan For Unity

Keep Calm And Carry On: Stuarts Take On Mark Coop Over Wartime Slogan For Unity

by | 29th, September 2011

DID you know that the European Union has stopped Britishers from selling copies of the Ministry of Information’s wartime poster “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON”?

The Daily Telegraph reports on Barter Books, Alnwick, Northumberland, a second-hand bookshop, where owners Stuart and Mary Manley own one of the original posters. (2.5million were printed but only a relative few distributed.)

Iain Hollingshead writes:

For despite having rediscovered the iconic poster, and launched the “Keep Calm” craze they have been told that, due to a ruling by the EU’s Office for Harmonisation of the Internal Market, they might no longer have the right to sell it.

Mr Manley found a poster. And he printed off 500 copies to sell.

In December 2005, Barter Books sold 9,000 copies of the poster in a month. Says Stuart:

“Our website broke down and we had to put our entire staff onto packaging posters.”

Then the report tells us:

Within a year other companies started to copy the design; Barter Books was happy to let them as long as they acknowledged the source.

As in copy the design that was printed by the Government and paid for by the taxpayer? Whose design is being copied?

The Stuarts have done nothing illegal:

When a work is made by an officer or servant of the crown, or by the Queen herself, in the course of normal duties, it is governed by Crown copyright, which lasts for 125 years from the end of year of creation, unless it is published within 75 years. Once published, copyright last for just 50 years. If a work is commissioned, then the creator usually retains his/her copyright which lasts life plus 50 years after the year of death. Parliamentary copyright is much the same as Crown copyright in that it lasts 50 years from the end of year of creation and is controlled by the relative House of Parliament. However, copyright in Bills, ends upon Royal Assent or if Assent not received, upon withdrawal or rejection, or the end of the Parliamentary Session.

The poster was created in 1939. The Stuarts found it in 1990.

Despite selling over 60,000 posters – as well as a significant number of mugs and merchandise – the Keep Calm line never accounted for more than 20 per cent of their business (and is now only 5 per cent). The Manleys are both in their sixties and one of the gentlest, warmest couples one could meet.

They have sold 60,000 photocopies of a free poster?

One businessman, however, has got their goat: Mark Coop, 36, a former television producer from Surrey who in 2007 started selling everything from posters and chocolate bars to hoodies containing the slogan. He also set up the domain name This year, having failed to register the slogan as a UK trademark, he succeeded in registering it as an EU trademark. He has recently persuaded eBay to take down products belonging to anyone else carrying the slogan: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

This is getting odder. The words and slogan designed to keep the Nazis at bay and the free British stoic is owned by a man who registered a website with the address, while the images are owned by couple who found a poster and photocopied it?

Anyone know who actually designed the thing and thought up the slogan?

The Manleys took legal advice, emerging “more confused than before”, and decided that it was too expensive to proceed. Now they are fighting back on a point of principle. “It’s the fact that a copier is trying to stop other copiers,” says Mary. “[It’s] like trying to trademark the line, ‘It was the best of times’.”

Did you see that bit about a principal. Anorak’s lawyer pal says that when a client says “It’s the principal’ he hears the cash register ker-ching!

“We’re not trying to stop him selling stuff,” says Stuart gently. “We’re just trying to stop him stopping other people. He has no ethical or moral right. I feel very strongly about this.”

Not everyone is so gentle:

Everyone needs to calm down, says Mr Coop who fears for his safety after receiving emails saying things like: “You should be lined up and shot.”

Anorak suggests copyrighting that and sticking it on a T-shirt…

Posted: 29th, September 2011 | In: The Consumer Comment | TrackBack | Permalink