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"Are coats of arms in the public domain?" Topic


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353 hits since 23 Sep 2015
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2015 3:00 p.m. PST

My god son wants to use the so called "family coat of arms" as a logo for his business.
I joked that he probably could not do that in Ireland but over here he should be ok.
But it did get me thinking about it.
Do Irish coats of arms carry trademark protection owned by the clan chief?
Or are they in the "public domain"?

He might conceivably be shipping his product to tha old sod, which is why I ask.
I don't want any red headed Mafiosi saying "Sure and begorrah, but that's a nice mill you have there. It would be shame if anything happened to it, it would!"

As always, free legal advice on TMP is worth every penny paid for it!

Maddaz111 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member23 Sep 2015 3:10 p.m. PST

Depends.

IANAL

- however.

When an organisation I was involved in considered and printed a typical coat of arms with motto, we were advised that if we used it without permission from the royal college of arms we could be prosecuted.

Since the fees for getting a coat of arms were expensive, we ended up putting a motto on a flag with the organisations initials

(the organisation went on to change its name and its motto about six months later, and the flag went in the recycling!)

Personal logo Sue Kes Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2015 1:22 p.m. PST

There are strict rules about who is entitled to use coats of arms, they don't belong to everyone who has the same name. The College of Arms is very sticky as to the use of armorial bearings, especially for commercial reasons. Google "Rules regarding the use of coats of arms" for some Wiki entries.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2015 9:58 p.m. PST

Thanks Sue.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP25 Sep 2015 8:45 a.m. PST

I would have imagined that as works of art created more than a certain number of years ago that no legal restrictions remain. Let us know the answer when you figure it out.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP25 Sep 2015 10:01 a.m. PST

A coat of arms is not a trademark in countries where they actually care about them.
There are still colleges of arms in England, Scotland and Ireland. And they do have legal authority to regulate their use. At least that's what I gathered from my legal research in Wikipedia. grin
As recently as 2004 the Irish legislature pondered the matter.

Years ago I had a Kelly green sweatshirt with the "Carroll coat of arms" on it and cousins have shot glasses and beer mugs ditto. All made in USA or other. I don't know what you can get in souvenir shops on Ireland but my research shows that…. Well I don't know exactly what it shows.

My nephew wishes to use it as his company logo. Not a problem in the USA but probably would have issues where arms are treated seriously.

I am guessing that there is a big difference between selling beer mugs with dozens of coats of arms on them and using a specific one as a company logo when you are not "entitled" to use it.

I do know that strictly speaking only The O'Carroll of Ely is entitled to bear those arms. But he does have an amazing resemblance to an old aunt of mine. Same nose!

Roderick Robertson Fezian25 Sep 2015 10:12 a.m. PST

According to the National Library of Ireland FAQ on the Office of the Chief Herald ( link ):


Can I use my ‘family coat of arms'?

There is, strictly speaking, no such thing as a ‘family coat of arms'. A grant of arms made to an individual extends to his or her descendants of the name, not to a family as such.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member04 Oct 2015 4:11 a.m. PST

As has been said, there is no such thing as a 'family coat of arms'.

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