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Mackintosh group attacks ‘Mockintosh’ products

1 December 2004

Any visitor to Glasgow will have seen a multitude of products and tea-shop signs aping the signature style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated designers and perhaps the city’s favourite son. And now, an umbrella group of heritage organisations is trying to file for legal protection of his work in an attempt to stop his reputation being sullied by tacky ‘Mockintosh’ products.

London-based IP blog IPKat reports that the group is working on a quality assurance scheme and has attempted to file for a certification mark after complaints by consumers who were disappointed by inferior quality Mackintosh-styled products. The certification mark would allow a ‘stamp of authenticity’ to appear on the products to signify official approval of the design.

The plan comes as Glasgow stokes its bid for world heritage status on the strength of Mackintosh’s famous architecture, stated the Sunday Times.

An initial range of products to be sold in Mackintosh museums and galleries around the city will be the first to be awarded the mark, which the organisers hope to register with the Patent Office next year.

If they meet the required design standards, companies will be charged a small commission in return for using the Mackintosh trademark.

Pat Marsden, a purveyor of Mackintosh-inspired products, doubts the plans would work: “The heritage organisations have long dismissed Mackintosh-style products and it seems hypocritical for them to decide to take control now. Some of the craftspeople I work with have decades of experience and they are clear about the fact that they are Mackintosh inspired — they are not copies. It seems very unfair to now ask them to come cap in hand to be told if what they have done is good enough to be given official approval”.

IPKat points out an interesting conundrum - the success of this scheme will depend on whether consumers actively seek ‘official’ Mackintosh products, or if instead all they care about is that the product has the Mackintosh ‘look’ which is something they can judge for themselves. Additionally, unless the products are made to Mackintosh designs, they aren’t really genuine Mackintosh products at all.

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