Once upon a time, there was an old WWII poster that was discovered by Stuart Manley, one of the owners of Barter Books — and now that poster is sold all over the place, as are other products with the same design, and many parodies of the original.
Maria Bustillos, writing in The Awl, explains how things evolved:
Stuart Manley could quite easily have filed for trademark protection back then, but he didn't. And when other businesses began selling Keep Calm products, mugs and beer mats and mouse pads and whatnot, he didn't go after any of them, though he did ask to be credited for his discovery by the many manufacturers who later made use of it.Unsurprisingly, many people are unhappy about this, and a legal challenge is underway.
Fast-forward to late March of this year, when ... Mark Coop, an ex-TV producer whose credits include "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?", succeeded in obtaining an EU trademark for the phrase "Keep Calm and Carry On."
If you're in the market for some Keep Calm merchandise, you may want to read the whole article in The Awl, or the earlier article in The Telegraph. And you can also read what Mark Coop has to say.
You can always choose to buy your Keep Calm products either from Barter Books directly, or from sites that do credit the bookstore, such as Keep Calm London - which has its own take on the controversy.
Meanwhile, I have two new Keep Calm products to share with you — neither of which gives a nod to Barter Books, darn it. The first is this pacifier case.
And as someone who just returned from some travels, I appreciated this T-shirt and tote.
Words to Live By: Keep Calm and Carry On
Keep Calm: An Update
Keep Calm and Carry On - and Variations Thereof
A Holiday Reminder: Keep Calm and Carry On
Keep Calm and Carry On: The Poster and Beyond
Keep Calm As You Get Organized