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DIY "copies" of designs Answered

Hey guys and girls,

I was wondering - what do people see as "right" when it comes to making DIY versions of designs. Obviously there is some level where it is inspiration, but what about when the design is based around a shape?

For example, this instructable Universal lamp shade polygon building kit clearly uses the same shape as the IQ-light, a fact the author acknowledges.

I want one of these Tote, but I would never pay US$114 for it.

So is it wrong to try to make a copy of the flat pattern? I've been trying to get it done in CAD, not there yet but getting close. What about if I exactly copied by tracing the shape. I have no intentions of selling it, is it still wrong?


OK cool, well, I'll keep working on it. I can't get the shape to work yet, but hopefully soon.


11 years ago

There is something called a "design patent" that covers things like this (a lot of product patents are actually design patents rather than "invention" patents.) I'm not sure exactly what the legal implications are. The polygon lampshade things made me a bit uncomfortable...

The point of a patent, and the reason one is given a monopoly for a period of time after the patent is approved, is education. Patents are intended to educate. So, for non-commercial purposes, you are permitted (I would say encouraged) to duplicate patented works. If someone pulled the patent for a popular and still patented drug and showed us how they made it, it would be completely legal. The patent itself is public record and a well-documented how-to even if it is full of legalize. As for the bag, you should definitely make your own. I seriously doubt that it even could be patented; I'm sure you could find prior art.

Remember to document the process so you can post an Instructable, of course!

"fair use" is mostly a part of copyright law (and trademark, according to your link), but it's NOT part of patent law...

Ah, true. But still, if this is one person copying a design solely for his or her own use without any money to be made off of the design through sale or otherwise, then it should be fine.

When you say "wrong" - do you mean from a legal stand point?

If you're just going for personal use (that is, not selling for profit) -- hands down there's no problem. I'll bet that you can even sell it without a problem ;) It has never been wrong to make something you like yourself ;)

It is interesting that you've asked this question. With so many organizations against making copies of things (think DMCA), tangible goods are being questioned too.