A firm has applied to take out a patent on the word 'Claddagh' with the aim of manufacturing the heart clasped rings in America.
Jim Fahy reports on a controversy that is putting the business of Irish ring-makers and jewellers in jeopardy. While the village of Claddagh is long gone, the distinctive ring style associated it for over 400 years has lived on. The rings are manufactured in Galway and a few other centres, with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth exported all over the world every year. But the Irish monopoly is now being challenged by an American firm. According to Caitríona Hartmann of Hartmann's Jewellers in Galway:
If an American company succeeds in patenting the name Claddagh, it means that it will be illegal for us to market Claddagh rings and use the word Claddagh on our products that we are selling to the States.
Exporter Brian Creedon explains that it is extremely expensive to patent something. The government could act, but seem to have taken the view that this is a local issue. Ken Hartmann insists that the government should step up on this.
An RTÉ News report from 13 September 1985.