An acquaintance of mine is a printer, and had been producing and selling a line of merchandise based on the very common “Keep Calm” meme, but recently received a notice that he had to stop producing the shirts / mugs / other stuff because someone in Canada is claiming the particular phrasing.
Is this a trademark issue? or is it something else like copyright?
I would not have thought something like this was ‘protect-able’ by whatever mechanism is being used, but apparently has become an issue for him. I’m not trying to get particular legal advise to pass along to him, I’m simply trying to understand the mechanism in use here as a matter of my own interest. I have no financial claim in his business whatsoever, I simply like the product/phrasing as it relates to a particular hobby that we are both involved in.
Could he modify the slogan slightly and apply the same protection so that he can continue to sell a line of product? If its something like “Keep Calm and Eat Sausages” could he change it to “Keep Calm and Cook Sausages” and not run afoul of whatever laws are preventing him from continuing this line of business?
Is there any argument he could use based on “making the product first” as would be possible in patent law?
While I think there is an answer here, it could easily be an advise question, so if I have the forum wrong, please adjust as needed.