Copyrights and pattern systems



Questions about copyrights, trademarks, and patents have come up during the development of Valentina. We’ve done our best to investigate what is possible when working with pattern systems. Usage of different systems for design and analysis to achieve an outcome or product is common practice in engineering, and pattern making is an engineering discipline.

As a general rule, in any discipline it is considered acceptable to convert published instructions from text and drawings into code.

Specifically about patternmaking, here’s the background on legal thought in this area:

Food, clothing, and shelter are basic human needs. It is difficult to obtain patents, trademarks, and copyright for cooking recipes and food preparation methods, architecture designs and building methods, and clothing design and manufacturing techniques. Machines, mannequins, and specialty gadgets can be patented. But the designs and methods (instructions) cannot be trademarked, copyrighted, patented, or otherwise restricted.

Publishers and writers of Pattern systems, like any business, can have a trademark on use of their company branding. You can mention the pattern system which was the basis for your pattern(s), but you can’t advertise your patterns using their company logo or name. There are no copyrights or restrictions on use of the formulas. Pattern system publications have copyrights on text and images, so you can’t copy-paste from the books (except in a review and discussion of the method along with attribution of the source). Copy-pasted text & images can’t be included in distribution with your pattern. But you can develop your own images and write your own instructions. Since the methods aren’t copyrighted, you may use the vocabulary terms from that method in your patterns and discussion about your pattern (Even though it is not legally required, it is probably good manners to mention where the terms come from). Most engineering disciplines have a precise, shared vocabulary due to this ability to refer to nomenclature used in an analytic method. [Note: Patternmaking traditionally doesn’t have a “sharing knowledge” community, this makes patternmaking different from most scientific and engineering communities. This may explain why the terms used in patternmaking are inconsistent between systems. Valentina is trying to fix this!]

Here is an example of how a pattern making system can’t be copyrighted or patented: The system used by Muller & Sohn (for Women) is presented in this book by Guido Hofenbitzer. He includes improved instructions and provides color highlighted images.