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Copyright problems with clone kits?

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Hello,
This got lost in the the thread I started History of Estes. Anyone have any input on this - Are there any copyright problems with instructions and decals? I noticed some clone kits contain copies of the original instructions.

Brian
 

sandman

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Well, not to make trouble but...if you didn't get written permission...

Anything with an Estes logo of Damon or Centuri...you get the picture...is a no no.

If you make them for yourself, well, that's OK but if you sell the copy you could, concievably, get into trouble.

The design itself is probably OK, but copies of the printed material is not. 3 fins and a nose cone are pretty basic designs and impossible to "copyright".

sandman
 

flying_silverad

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If you use the "Search" feature within the forum I'm sure you 'll find plenty of info and good discussion on this. This seems to come up almost every other month so the supply of good debate is more than plentiful.

If you do a search of "Clone", you should get plenty of info.
 

graylensman

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I also recall a thread about guys selling BOPs (Bag Of Parts) with directions to go to JimZ's totally righteous site and download the appropriate instruction sets. This is thought to be a legit way of sidestepping copyright issues.
 

DynaSoar

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Originally posted by bswan72
Hello,
This got lost in the the thread I started History of Estes. Anyone have any input on this - Are there any copyright problems with instructions and decals? I noticed some clone kits contain copies of the original instructions.

Brian
I spoke to Estes' counsel on this matter after having bought one such clone.

Yes, there are both patents and copyrights involved.

They know people are making old plans etc. available. They haven't done anything about that. I doubt they will.

They know people are making clone kits. They definitely do not like this. They've taken action on these in the past, and may well again.

The problem is NOT specifically intellectual property protection related, but rather one of liability. They don't want to be held responsible for something someone else sold.

Let's say someone sells a clone kit and labels it as such. Then someone else builds and flies it, and pokes somebody's eye out in the process. In the almost inevitable court case, if it comes out that the the device was copied from an initial design belonging to Estes, the attorneys involved may try to go after Estes, claiming the design was defective. If the person selling the clones is some small company, which in model rocketry terms can mean just some guy in his basement, and maybe not even 18, it's more likely they'll try to go after the big money, because they can't get much from some hobbyist. Even though they're unlikely to win such a claim, some attorneys will do this, in the hopes that the big money involved will settle out of court rather than waste even more money and the time involved to defend themselves in the court room.

Yes, selling a Bag of Parts, which states "well you COULD build..." and a URL to the old plans online does offer a some protection against this.
 

shrox

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Building for your own pleasure is one thing, selling the work of others is a bad thing.

Say you had three PNC-55 conical cones, some BT-55 and BT-60 laying around with some basswood stock and built yourself a Shrox Star Shuttle just from looking at pictures, way cool!!! Take those same parts, put them in a bag and sell it as a Shrox Star Shuttle clone, and I'll be less than charitable about it.

shrox
 

flying_silverad

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What was it about the purchase of a clone that made you call Estes in the first place?
 

EMRR

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Originally posted by bswan72
Hello,
This got lost in the the thread I started History of Estes. Anyone have any input on this - Are there any copyright problems with instructions and decals? I noticed some clone kits contain copies of the original instructions.

Brian
Not quite the same, but in the same line of thought... I received written permission to put Estes Website and Catalog on "EMRR on CD" because I was selling it. Signed the contract, I did. Placed the notice on the CD, I did. No problems.

Nick
 

DynaSoar

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Originally posted by flying_silverad
What was it about the purchase of a clone that made you call Estes in the first place?
First, I'm very sensitive to intellectual property issues as (1) a professional scientist, and (2) as a for-hire expert witness with a computer network investigation business in intellectual property protection court cases (I'm currently involved in the Harlan Ellison vs. AOL case). I don't care so much what others do, but I am careful aboutr what I do and whether it might be construed as going against the sort of thing I'm supposed to be a computer network expert in protecting.

I bought it knowing it was a clone, and didn't consider that a problem. But when it arrived it had a copy of the original instructions with the original patent number stamped on it, and the original fin pattern sheet, those two documents definitely covered by copyright, and I started to wonder. I decided to call Estes to find out what they thought about people doing this. I fully expected the answer to be "we don't care" when it came to the intellectual property, and that pretty much was the answer. However, they pointed out that liability is an entirely different and more sensitive matter as far as they're concerned.

They wouldn't go as far as to say the IP stuff didn't matter, because that's the issue they'd use to prevent misuse of their designs. But the reason is more liability than anything else.

I asked if they'd give permission to clone a kit if someone asked for it, and they said no.

And to be perfectly honest, another reason I did it was because the person I bought the clone from was just a kid, and didn't know what he might be getting himself into, and I wanted to make sure he wasn't going to get himself into trouble. He was doing a decent job of kit making and I wanted to see him succeed, and was willing to bet dollars to donuts it hadn't even realized it might be an issue. Apparently finding out scared him. He's stopped.
 

Guest
Hello,
I have been shopping on ebay and reading rocket reviews. I was surprised that some of the clone kits contain copies of the original instructions. That's what prompted me to ask about it. I can see making a clone rocket kit but I don't agree with copying something with out permission. Thing if you had an original design and someone just copied and sold it?

Brian
 

flying_silverad

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DynaSoar-

The clone wouldn't have been a Falcon that you bought on ebay for Rocket Pad kits would it? The reason i ask is someone emailed me about a month ago with the very same question with the very same format. He too said that he was interested in protecting the copyright of the written material.

Are you the same person? I notice you both teach and live in the same town.
 

DynaSoar

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Originally posted by flying_silverad
DynaSoar-

The clone wouldn't have been a Falcon that you bought on ebay for Rocket Pad kits would it? The reason i ask is someone emailed me about a month ago with the very same question with the very same format. He too said that he was interested in protecting the copyright of the written material.

Are you the same person? I notice you both teach and live in the same town.
I did buy it from Rocketpad. I don't teach, but I am with Yale. As I said I wasn't so interested in protecting the copyright of the material but rather in preventing people from getting in trouble, either with Estes for cloning their kits without permission, or with any of the various online outlets, for selling things that were cloned without permission.
 
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