As we recently celebrated World Intellectual Property Day, we thought we might investigate the background to the first granted patents and registered trade marks.

Patent Firsts

UK patent law applied in Ireland until the formation of the Irish Free State in 1921. It was not until the Industrial and Commercial Property (Protection) Act 1927 that the Irish Patents Office was established with its offices at 45 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

With the Irish love for greyhound racing, it is not surprising that the first granted Irish patent was for a starter cage for racing dogs. This patent application was filed on 18th January 1928, by an American, Hannah Mary Smith, Administrator of the estate of the late Owen Patrick Smith. There is still a website ( dedicated to Mr. Smith, who was the son of Irish immigrants. The Patent was allotted Patent Specification No. 10001.

The earliest known English patent was granted by Henry VI in 1449 to John of Utynam, a Flemish born inventor, for a method of making stained glass. This stained glass was used for the windows of the famous Eton College.

Some of the first patents for well known inventions which we still use today include:

  • Alexander Graham Bell’s patent for the telephone which was granted in 1876.
  • Felix Hoffmann’s 1899 patent for “Aspirin”. Hoffmann discovered that the compound called salicin found in willow plants provided pain relief.
  • Alfred Butts’ board game “Criss Cross Words” created in 1931 and which has become known under the more famous name Scrabble.
  • The first ice cream cone, invented by Italo Marchiony, an Italian emigrant to New York, U.S.A., was the subject of a U.S. patent dated 1903.

 Trade Mark Firsts

The use of trade marks goes back many centuries and arguably the longest established trade mark is the Löwenbräu lion which its owners claim was first used in the late 14th century. As most of us know, the Guinness brewery in Dublin also dates as far back as 1759.

Following the establishment of the Free State in Ireland in 1921, the Industrial and Commercial Property Act came into force in 1927. The first trade mark registered in Ireland at the Irish Patents Office under the new legislation was Deanta I nEirinn (Made in Ireland) logo by the Irish Industrial Development Association (Incorporated).

The first trade mark entered on the UK Trade Marks Register was the Bass red triangle (above) which was protected for ale and so proud were the owners of this fact that in 2013 they announced that their Trade Mark BASS PALE ALE would be rebranded as BASS TRADEMARK No. 1.

Lyle’s Golden Syrup appears in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain’s oldest brand, with its green and gold packaging having remained almost unchanged since 1885.