President Donald Trump remains a frequent point of reflective discourse for many, please see our previous article. The Trump Organization fell foul of heraldic restrictions in the UK, when using a coat of arms (an ‘armorial bearing’) that was granted to someone else. At the President’s “Trump National Golf Club” in the USA, his coat of arms, comprising three lions and two chevrons beneath a gloved hand gripping an arrow, is used extensively. However, Mr Trump was precluded from using this coat of arms at his two golf courses in Scotland, despite alterations being made to it.
The ‘armorial bearing’ used in Scotland was a near exact copy of the coat of arms granted to an American diplomat, Joseph Edward Davies, by the British College of Arms in 1939, save for (a) the Latin motto of the Davies family “integritas,” was replaced with the Presidents surname “Trump” and (b) the gloved hand was replaced with a ‘helmet’ above the shield.
It is widely understood that the Trump Organisation did not seek permission from the Davies family to use their coat of arms, which leads us to ask whether action can be taken against a third party making unauthorised use of your coat of arms. The short answer to the question is “Yes”, but only in a jurisdiction which acknowledges heraldic rights (the UK being one such jurisdiction).
The law of heraldic arms (or laws of heraldry) governs the use of armorial bearings in the UK. The Court of Chivalry is responsible for deciding rights to arms in England and Wales, whilst the Court of the Lord Lyon is the equivalent in Scotland.
In 2012, the Court of the Lord Lyon blocked the Trump Organisation from using the Davies’ family arms on a new golf course in Aberdeen and an application to register the Trump copy with the College of Arms was also refused. However, the President continues to use the “TRUMP” crest in the US in relation to his golf courses and merchandising, where heraldry laws are less strict.
In the UK, those that have been granted the right to bear arms can register the whole or any part of the full achievement as a Trade Mark, thereby protecting it against unauthorised third party use. A notable example is the automobile company, Porsche, whose crest has become a globally recognised brand.
Here at Albright IP, we are well positioned to help you protect, police and enforce your Trade Marks both in the United Kingdom and overseas.