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Tartan IP

The Scotsman has reported some moves towards providing an official registry of tartans (’plaid’ to my American readers), that would share many features of traditional IP rights. It looks like the system could involve:

  • A system of registration, much like for trademarks or for registered designs.
  • Registrations would be reviewed for uniqueness and authenticity.

No word on what, if any, legal rights for registered tartan owners would be associated with registration. I assume that there would be some sort of mark from the registry that would be attached to registered and ‘authentic’ goods. That way the registry would be a way to brand quality and develop a better reputation for producers.

My guess is that the authenticity review would only be a part, as the article notes that new tartans are created every year:

There are thought to be more than 4,500 unique tartans and about 150 new designs come forward each year. Football teams, the mobile phone firm 02, the Hilton Hotel in Hong Kong and a number of whiskies all have their own tartan.

LL Bean, based in Maine, US, was caught out earlier this year using a tartan whose creators claimed copyright over the design.

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