Tuesday, March 24, 2009


In an earlier post, I told you that I had a small manufacturing business that sold items through the various gift markets. In making the gift items, I found that as the women used the patterns I made, they gradually lost shape as the women traced and cut around them for applique pieces. I was very frustrated and finally decided that maybe I could print the designs directly on the fabric for the women to cut, rather than have to trace the design first.

I tried many times running fabric through my copier - I might add here that I spent quite a bit on copier repairs and technical support; however, I finally found a way to successfully run fabric through my copier. This was wonderful, all I had to do is print the design onto the fabric and it was ready for my ladies to trim and applique the various pieces in place.

To make a long story shorter, one of the ladies suggested that I should get a patent on this idea. I really didn’t think it was patentable, but I called my attorney (the same attorney who had advised me regarding my business name change) and asked. He said, "Yes, there are three different kinds of patents utility, plant, and design." He suggested that I could get a utility patent. He asked me to send him some samples, which I did and wrote a description of my "method of transferring designs onto fabric with a copier". He did a search to see that no one else had already patented the same process. It took two years from the time of application to the time of issuance. He filed the application in 1986 and it was issued in 1988.

Here is more information on kinds of patents:

Utility and plant patents are granted for a term which begins on the date of the grant and ends twenty years from the date the patent application was first filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees.

Design patents are granted for a term of fourteen years from the date of the grant. Patents may be extended only by special act of Congress, except for some pharmaceutical patents whose terms may be extended to make up for time lost due to Government-required testing.

If you plan to file an application, you or your representative should make a search of patents previously granted to make sure that your idea has not already been patented.

Here is a site for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:


My patent has expired and now belongs to the domain, which means that it is free for anyone to use my method of transferring to fabric using a copier and/or printer. I would like to say that two major copier companies paid me for the use of my patent.

Here is a copy of my patent, showing only the first two pages:

There is a great difference is copyright and trademark, which I will talk about later on. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’ll make one more comment - that is that I married an attorney, who shares an office with a patent attorney.

1 comment:

DEB said...

The trademark office is hiring currently! They are in Alexandria. If it weren't for the long 1 hr. commute, I might consider applying...I think being a patent examiner would be a fun job! Your accomplishments are certainly enviable Char! Go to Maria's blog. She is at pencilsanity.blogspot.com. She has a Native American drawing posted that you will swoon over!