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Tartans: copyright & restrictions


Many existing tartans have legally-binding copyright restrictions on weaving or other usage due to commercial or other interests. Most corporate tartans fulfill an important role in that organisation’s corporate identity and are reserved for the exclusive use as an element of that business’s corporate identity.

We respect both the letter and the spirit of any tartan designer’s intellectual property and will strive to enforce this. By creating and/or publishing new or modified tartans using this system, you are deemed to be accepting legal responsibility for ensuring each design you create is unique and infringing no one else’s rights. And there is a special link on the Details page of every design to “Report as inappropriate…” any design you believe should be removed (please give full reasons).

However, there is no absolute, simple, or clear definition of what distinguishes one tartan from another. It is accepted practice to consider the adding of extra lines, or significant colour changes, to an existing tartan to constitute the creation of a new and distinct design. However, the truth is that such questions of similarity and difference can only ever be a subjective judgement, and such arguments could only ever be ultimately settled in a court of law, involving expert opinion. No one wants this.

We therefore apply several different checks to try to ensure we do not allow anyone’s protected designs ever to be produced as if they were public property. These include both technical and human audits.

Firstly, it is your responsibility not to publish anyone else’s copyright design. This is unlikely to happen by chance. If you do so intentionally, you may be opening yourself to sanctions, including the deletion of your designs and/or account in our systems. We can and will at our sole discretion if necessary delete all records for anyone we consider to have been deliberately or seriously abusing our facilities.

When you commission us to weave any new design, our systems automatically check that it a unique sett, within certain technical parameters, and that it has a unique name, not already recorded. If either exists already, you will be asked to make appropriate changes before we will produce it.

If you order fabrics or products in a new design, our retail team will review your design visually for similarity to known restricted tartans. (If your design has been created as a modification of a tartan marked in our systems as restricted, this will be automatically notified to our customer service team.) Our highly experienced weavers will also review it independently for any such similarity. If your design is considered by either to be too alike a restricted tartan, we may decline to weave the pattern unless sufficient changes in our sole judgement have been made to it.



Categories Terms & conditions
Tags tartan copyright terms