Dealing with a duplicate coat of arms

So, you find out someone else has the same coat of arms as you. What can you do about it?

First of all, if that person or corporation is in a jurisdiction where you do not have a presence in (physical, financial, commercial, etc.) then you’re out of luck. As mentioned in a [previous post on unique arms], entities in different jurisdictions can have identical arms without having any relation to each other. Unless, of course, you have already registered your arms there.

COA Arms of the heir to the French throneIn most cases, an armiger must prove that there has been damage caused by the use of the arms by another. A very much referred to case is that in France between the various pretenders to the, now defunct, throne of France. In 1987, Henri, comte de Paris, duc de France and the Orleanist pretender to the throne of France sued Louis-Alphonse (Louis XX), duc d’Anjou and the Legitimist pretender to the same throne for the alleged usurpation of the undifferenced arms of France. The move is believed to have been to secure the claims to the throne of one pretender over the other. Regardless of whatever supposed motivations of the suit, it was not proven to the court that any damages were incurred on the suing party (Henri) by the use of the same arms by the defendant (Louis). The court then dismissed the case without discussing its merits.

In other jurisdictions where there are specific laws regarding the use of heraldry, such as England and Scotland, there are legal avenues one can take to resolve a claim.

COA College of ArmsIn England, one may address the Court of Chivalry presided by the Earl Marshal of England (hereditary title of the Duke of Norfolk). A point must be made that this court last convened in 1955 in the case of Manchester Corporation v Manchester Palace of Varieties Ltd [1955] 1 All ER 387 and it was the first time since 1732.

COA Lord LyonIn Scotland, things are a significantly better than perhaps any other jurisdiction in the world. The Court of the Lord Lyon deals with all cases heraldic and is an integral part of the Scottish legal system convening regularly. Presided by the Lord Lyon, the Lyon Court has it’s own prosecutor and can bring charges against individuals or corporations violating the Scottish laws of heraldry. The most famous recent case was when the Lyon Court ordered a corporation owned by Donald Trump from displaying its coat of arms, in any form, in early 2008.

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