Use of State Emblems

The State emblems of the Harp and Shamrock, and a number of variations of that theme, were notified by the Irish State to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) some years ago as protected emblems of the State and thereby avail of International protection under the terms of Article 6ter of the Paris Convention for the protection of Industrial Property. State emblems are also protected by Irish Law by section 97 of the Trade Marks Act 1996. Section 97   of that Act provides, inter alia, for the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to undertake certain actions in respect of the unauthorised use of the State emblems in connection with any business.

The notification to WIPO and the provision in the Trade Marks Act 1996 excludes these State emblems from registration or use as trade marks or as elements of trade marks. The reason for this exclusion is that registration or use of such emblems would encroach upon the right of the State to control the use of the symbols of its identity and sovereignty. Moreover, use of a State emblem as a trade mark by an unrelated or unauthorised organisation, entity or person is likely to mislead the public as to the origin, sponsorship or endorsement of the goods to which the emblem is attached; or to lead a member of the public to believe that the activities of the organisation or commercial entity are in some way linked to those of the Government, or that the activities of same could be seen to be exploiting the Government emblem for commercial gain.

Whilst there is a very restrictive policy of granting consent for the use of the State emblem of the Harp and, generally speaking, such use is reserved for use for the organs of State only, authorisation to use the Shamrock can extend to use in a commercial sense where it can clearly be established that there exists a real and substantive link between the goods in question and Ireland. However, any person who wishes to use the State emblem of the Shamrock must first gain the consent of the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to do so.

There is no formal application form.  However, an application for the consent of the Minister may be made in writing or by email to:

The Intellectual Property Unit of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation
Patents Office
Hebron Road
Kilkenny

Telephone number: 056 7720150 
Fax: 056 7720100 
Email: ipu@dbei.gov.ie