I need some advice.

I’m looking for some advice from the various folks who drop by who know a thing or two regarding copyright and trademarks. And probably patents, for that matter.

I’ve got several new features planned for the cable grapher. Some of them are going to require creating a library of stitch patterns in it. This is where I’m a little concerned, because some of the patterns that I want to add are patterns that I’ve seen in books.

I’m not talking about total garment design here, rather just types of cables and laces. My question to you is: do you think that I need to seek out the permission of the authors or publishers of the books from which I plan to borrow patterns?

I’m not sure if there’s any established explicit or case law on this matter. Any input anyone’s got would be much appreciated. In the meantime, I’m going to browse around and see what I can find out on the matter. I’ll post whatever the final decision is here.

No Responses to “I need some advice.”

  1. Mark Says:

    Georgina’s comment about 10% of a design, et cetera, was insightful. I had not known it was so specific.

    The conventional wisdom does indeed agree with her: if you imitate a specific design element, such as a cable, for example, or a pattern of decreases (or increases) for a raglan shoulder, and incorporate it into a pattern of your own devising, then it becomes yours.

    Do be careful with design elements that are so unusual that you cannot document their existence except in a single source, however. In “Viking Patterns for Knitting”, for example, Elsebeth Lavold has created unique ways to imitate knotwork in knitted cabling (the way Alice Starmore did before her for Celtic patterns). These techniques are definitely not in the public domain.

    Public-domain elements, such as those that can be found in Barbara Walker’s wonderful volumes, may certainly be included, but be sure that you do not copy her WORDING in your instructions for their execution. The particular wording that a designer has used is almost always under copyright. I do not know what form your little project here will take, but write out your own instructions for any elements or techniques that you use, wherever you take them from.

  2. Georgina Says:

    Forgive my poor editing!

  3. Georgina Says:


    Here is an article regarding copyrighting of designs:

    In design school they taught us that a design changed by 10% from the original is not a “copy”. Here is an interesting article about design piracy: http://leda.law.harvard.edu/leda/data/36/MAGDO.html

    I think that cables are not copyrighted because it would be very difficult to determine who the original designer was. I think that you are ethically safe if you arrange the cables in your own way.

  4. Visitor Says:


    I could be wrong, but I believe that patents are about design.

    You could talk to an intellectual property lawyer. Here are some random ones mentioned @ the Texas Bar Association, who are in San Antonio:


    I got the names from the
    http://www.texasbar.com website. You can search their member directory by location and type of lawyer. You have to find their links separately though.

    Best of Luck!