AROUND SLOVAKIA

Dispute over Goral embroidery

A POLISH immigrant living in Chicago has received a US patent for floral patterns used in traditional Goral embroidery. Gorals are an ethnic group living primarily in the Tatras Mountains on both sides of the Slovak-Polish border.

A POLISH immigrant living in Chicago has received a US patent for floral patterns used in traditional Goral embroidery. Gorals are an ethnic group living primarily in the Tatras Mountains on both sides of the Slovak-Polish border.

According to news reports, the US Patent Office registered several embroidery patterns submitted by an unnamed Polish immigrant, apparently a Goral. Gorals living in Slovakia are enraged, the Sme daily wrote in October. “Common sense has it that only something invented by a single person can be patented. This gentleman probably has mistaken patenting with plagiarism,” Daniel Damer, a prominent promoter of Goral traditions in Slovakia, told Sme.

Helena Regecová, head of the folklore ensemble Flisocek, added that if this Polish Goral continued to acquire patents on popular embroidery patterns, it would cause damage and pain to all other Gorals. “The typical Goral floral pattern is used in all colours. It belongs to all Gorals,” she stated. “I ask – can Goral embroidery patterns fulfil the condition of being new? This can hardly be called an inventive activity."

One cannot patent cultural heritage,” Július Špipoš of the Slovak Industrial Property Office told Sme, adding somewhat tongue-in-cheek that it seems that the US really is a country of unlimited possibilities when someone can patent something that cannot be patented elsewhere. He added, however, that US patents are valid only in there and assured Gorals that they need not worry about being able to continue their embroidery.


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