Question for makers: Protecting your design?

Question for makers: Protecting your design?

This is a discussion on Question for makers: Protecting your design? within the Defensive Carry Holsters & Carry Options forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'm working on an (what I believe to be) innovative new design for a holster/carrying method. My concern is, once I've made this available, what ...

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  1. #1
    cj [OP]
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    Question for makers: Protecting your design?

    I'm working on an (what I believe to be) innovative new design for a holster/carrying method. My concern is, once I've made this available, what can be done about copycats?

    I'd just be starting out and extremely small time initially, but established industries would be in an excellent position to adapt their construction methods and mass produce, thus losing all of my development effort.

    Is there any approach to copyrighting a design? I'm not certain the approach would be patentable since it's really leveraging a number of existing ideas and technologies, just arranging them in a unique way to provide a great option for users.


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    VIP Member Array automatic slim's Avatar
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    You need to consult with a copyright attorney.
    "First gallant South Carolina nobly made the stand."
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    VIP Member Array jwhite75's Avatar
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    I dont know what you can do....but I do know that there are some makers out there that are using blatant copies of existing designs, from some very well known maufacturers. The thing of it is that most of the time, the original is so popular and well developed that it doesnt really hurt their sales and business any ways. I have seen some makers, give credit where it is due, and others who simply rip off the design and keep trucking.
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    Member Array spooter66's Avatar
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    While there are a few makers out there that blatantly copy someone elses work, most try not to.

    The problem is there is only so many ways to wrap leather around a gun. While you may think you have a unique holster design, if you look hard enough you will probably find someone at sometime has beat you to it.
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    kpw
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    I appreciate seeing makers give credit to the original designers.
    Like spooter said, somebody probably has come out with something similar but ya never know. I don't think I know of anyone that has more knowledge about holster makers and their designs than Tony Kanaley at Milt Sparks. He might be able to give you some clues about similar designs and I'd say it's a safe bet that he wouldn't rip your design.
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    Senior Member Array the_fallguy's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous folks out there that have no integrity and will blatantly steal other makers' successful designs without giving any credit to the originator, or having any real idea why the designs work. Hopefully, consumers will have enough integrity not to support them if they are made aware of the issue (IMO, if you are supporting a maker that is copying another maker's design without their blessing or approval, you are helping the copycat steal, period.).

    If you don't think it would qualify for a patent anyhow, there is probably not much you can do to protect your design. Copyrighting and Trade Marking don't offer any real protection as far as designs are concerned. Ultimately, even if you are able to get a patent it doesn't offer very much protection in the holster industry. It is my understanding that you would have to prove a financial loss at the hands of the copycat and issue a cease and desist notice to them, and pursue the matter in court from there if it persists. This would cost several thousand dollars, and that just isn't an option for most small businesses.

    Personally, I just try my best to make the highest quality product that I can, and try to give credit where it is due.

    NOTE - I am not a lawyer, and this should not be considered legal advice. If you really think you have something, don't even worry about what anyone tells you on the 'NET and go straight to a patent lawyer to get some real advisement on how to go about this. Good luck with your designs.
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    cj [OP]
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    Thanks for the great advice all. I actually work for a company that automatically gains first option on all of my patents, so even if my concept was novel enough, they'd have first dibs...so free legal fees, but they own it...although it WOULD be pretty funny to see the face of some unscrupulous type walking into arbitration or court to see the team of lawyers they'd be facing :)

    But really it's just a unique combination of materials that, when seen should make most people go, "Duh! Why haven't they done it that way all along?", and not limited to being just a holster, more of an entire system, thus making it easy to use in lots of applications.

    Hmm, maybe I will set up a short chat with one of our lawyers just in case...

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    Russ Weinzimmer

    Law Firm Russ Weinzimmer & Associates P.C. Attorneys Milford, New Hampshire Nationwide Patent Lawyers

    Pick up the phone and call him, he is a gun guy and also a very good pat atty.
    He will have insight into your design that other pat atty's may not.

    He will tell you what is and is not patentable about your design, there is more than one way to skin the cat.

    Be prepared for $8k to get each patent filed.

    {{{EDIT...Didn't see you were already locked up on the atty thing}}}
    Mark Craighead
    Owner/Founder
    CrossBreed Holsters LLC
    http://www.crossbreedholsters.com

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    Member Array T. Kanaley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cj View Post
    I'm working on an (what I believe to be) innovative new design for a holster/carrying method. My concern is, once I've made this available, what can be done about copycats?

    I'd just be starting out and extremely small time initially, but established industries would be in an excellent position to adapt their construction methods and mass produce, thus losing all of my development effort.

    Is there any approach to copyrighting a design? I'm not certain the approach would be patentable since it's really leveraging a number of existing ideas and technologies, just arranging them in a unique way to provide a great option for users.
    In the world of holster making, there are some who do the work and bring ideas to the table and there are some who are content just to sit at it.

    Add an extra stitch line or alter the shape slightly and they call it their design even though it looks a lot like yours. No matter how you cut the pork it’s still pork, but they’ll try to convince everyone it’s bacon!

    Furthermore, if you find you’ve been copied and have the temerity to protest on an open forum, the copycat enablers will put it back on you as if it’s your fault, or they’ll simply tell you, you should be “flattered” (something about imitation being the sincerest form of).

    Anyway, good luck on that one. Patent your design if it’s patentable and be prepared to spend as much as needed to defend it. My good friend, Wayne Novak, defended his rear sight patent vigorously and kept the wolves at bay for a good many years. Even if you’re not eventually awarded a patent, the patent search process will allow you to at least label your product “patent pending” which is enforceable and will buy you some time.

    T
    Second Best is not an option

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    Sponsor Array High Noon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cj View Post
    I'm working on an (what I believe to be) innovative new design for a holster/carrying method. My concern is, once I've made this available, what can be done about copycats?

    I'd just be starting out and extremely small time initially, but established industries would be in an excellent position to adapt their construction methods and mass produce, thus losing all of my development effort.

    Is there any approach to copyrighting a design? I'm not certain the approach would be patentable since it's really leveraging a number of existing ideas and technologies, just arranging them in a unique way to provide a great option for users.

    This is just our take on your question. We are by far no experts in patent law. We are speaking from our experience only.

    Copyright patents refer to words and books and authoring. We think you mean a design patent or utility patent.

    We would not put 2 cents into a design patent for a holster, which is given on the ornamental design of a functional item .They are far too easy to get around. Change a stitch line and a few curves and it’s done. Its different looking. And we know from experience there are attorneys who will argue the copy does not have to be exact for the patent to be infringed. It only has to be similar. So for another $50,000 or $300.00 an hour, your attorney can argue with another attorney on what similar really is. Now you had better hope the product makes you money, cause if it does not, the patent is useless and the only ones who make money are the attorneys.

    There are many things patented that are copied by other people and the patent holders do not defend it cause it does not make money. That’s the bottom line, does it make enough money to defend it in court.

    Now a utility patent is better thing to have, that protects the way an invention is used and works. That’s a much stronger patent in our opinion. But still takes money to start and defend.

    Good luck if you go this route. But I think You should just make the best product you can.

    Take care
    Justin

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    VIP Member Array HKinNY's Avatar
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    A poor man way of cover your bottom line is to mail a drawing of your design to yourself return receipt requested from yourself. Keeping all the receipts in case you have to prove that it was your design.

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    Sponsor Array High Noon's Avatar
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    That’s actually recommended by attorneys and a good thing to do. Do not open it till you need it.

    Justin

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    VIP Member Array Majorlk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by High Noon View Post

    Copyright patents refer to words and books and authoring.
    And photographs, works of art, etc. ...

    FYI, it's a copyright; no such thing as a copyright patent. They are two different things. :)
    An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. - Robert A. Heinlein

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    cj [OP]
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    Wow wow wow. Great info all...I had really just hoped for an idea or two, and possibly some thoughts based on experience...you all have far exceeded what I could have hoped!

    To be a little more clear, this isn't simply just cutting leather in a new shape or anything, it's looking at things in a slightly different way and making what I think are some pretty useful improvements. I seriously doubt it's novel enough to be patentable (but that's for my company lawyer to decide), but I KNOW it would take me a while to ramp up to competitive quality to what else is out there...creating an opportunity for someone to modify their processes to basically do it better.

    Maybe the best idea might be to just work with someone else out there who DOES have the production part down, but meanwhile I'll be working on some samples to better test the idea and it's possibilities.

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