# Vendor Ethics

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#### nomopbo

##### Well-Known Member
I know vendors try to stay original, but what do you do when a design resembles someone elses design? (especially a 3FNC) Has anyone ever had fingers pointed at them? "Hey, you stole that!"

I know no one can say "hey Shrox, you can't make that Snarky 'cause Sunward makes airplane looking rockets."

"Hey Art, you can't sell saucers 'cause it looks like a Snitch."

"I don't know Jim... That FarScape reminds me an aweful lot of an Andromeda."

Do you flat out tell someone "hey doofus, did you build your Snitch?" "Hey Bud, where were you when I test flew the FarScape over and over until it flew straight?"

But where is the line? How fine is the line? If it isn't their kit, than it's your kit plain and simple. Making a design (inspired by another kit) and changing a shape or construction step is enough? (3FNC)

I only ask because I was considering doing a kit (small run) for fun, and I am asking these questions out of FEAR!

I know Shrox gave away the Stealthie plans because he felt it too closely resembled an Edmonds Deltie.

Let me give another example...
I made a two stage rocket. The sustainer was a Baby Bertha. The booster I made myself, but it was totally inspired by the Semroc Firefly.
Now I tweak a fin or change the nosecone so its a 4FNC (no longer a B.Bertha) The booster is already tweaked. Now it doesn't look like a Firefly or a Bertha, so now I can package it as a kit?

It doesn't feel right when you put it like that, but I know there are lots of kits out there that are inspired by others. I know there are tons of similar looking 3FNC rockets.

How do you guys handle it when a design may incorperate a feature or technique that has been done before?

#### SecretSquirrel

##### Well-Known Member
One thing to keep in mind is that there is no such thing as a completely original design. All rockets have some aspect that is in common with at least one other. All designers whether consciously or unconsciously are influenced by the designs of others that they have enjoyed either physically through flight or just for the looks. It is your own unique twist that you put to these features that make your kit original.

There are pleanty of examples; Red Baron/Flying Jenny, Big Betty/Big Bertha, Tumbleweed/Sprite. The list is large.

The kit you describe is original. Maybe inspired by the Baby Bertha but that kit was never multi stage. You changed the fin shape, so you're even more removed from the inspiration.

#### brianc

##### Well-Known Member
A guitar has (generally) only 6 strings. Yet, there are an near infinite
number of ways to make the notes and produce a song.

Same with rockets. NC, BT, fins, & MMT. How many ways can you
boattails, paint and decals. Then add some accents, like antennas or
fin extentions, strakes or other BTs for boosters...

I think you get the picture.

Have fun, just don't duplicate something exactly.

#### jflis

##### Well-Known Member
Yep, I was going to mention the Tumbleweed/Sprite also.

If we (FlisKits) were to produce, effectively, the "Sprite", call in the "Sprite" and use the original instructions and figures, etc, etc, etc, yea there'd be trouble

Couldn't do it without permission.

But the "Tumbleweed". Not a problem. The name is trademarked, the documentation is copyrighted. The only thing that I could do to protect the design would be to patent it (ain;t gonna happen).

Now, did I "steal" the Sprite design. Well no, I was influenced by it. If someone accuses me of "stealing" it I simply suggest that if they are offended then they shouldn't buy it, but I don't give it much more credence than that.

In fact, you would find closer comparisons (in my opinion) between the Big Bertha and the Rhino. The Rhino was influenced by the Bertha as we wanted a large, simple rocket for the kids.

Jack Hagarty is convinced that the Tres was influenced by the Mars Snooper. Perhaps, but it's a bit of a stretch and I've had several folks compare the FarScape to the Andromeda (frankly, I don't see it )

Bottom line, if you *DID* steal the design that's just "wrong". If however you designed your own rocket with influence from others, go for it

I will say that the Tres was influenced by the Deuce... The Deuce wasn't influenced by anything, that I can recall.

#### Dr.Zooch

##### Well-Known Member
A good example is my ant-scale Saturn V occupies the same basic space as an Estes K-39, but I spent 8 months making sure it was different. This accomplished two goals 1) I made a far better version of the original and 2) I captured a lot of the rocketeers who miss the olk K-39. I spent a lot of time insuring that every method in construction and most of the parts were not the same as the Estes kit, so as to not steal their product. The whole thing started out by me trying to clone a K-39. When I finished I looked at it and said to myself "I forgot how much that kit sucks." It was then that I set out to create my own line of rockets, led by the Saturn V. When I RockSim'ed the K-39, using parts of the original obtained on e-bay, I found that stability was... well... not good. So I ditched the glass fins and went with wood and a pre-weighted nose. That means that even the method by which my kit flies is not the same as the Estes K-39. When you're doing a kit for sale... you have topicture yourself in court explaining how yours is different. My SAV kit is also always being refined too. The most recent is my cleaning up of the wraps corrigation and redesign of the fins to match the actual vehicle's fins shape. Other suggestions- some made on this forum, are also being made. That updated kit is out in beta right now

##### Well-Known Member
Yep, just like chicken soup....no really think about it. There must be a thousand "different" recipes but when it comes right down to it, 80% of all the stuff that's in it is the same.

It's hard not be inspired as a designer. But you do like to make things better...with a different twist.

#### shrox

##### Well-Known Member
I try to be different...

I have notice a lot more designs away from the 3FNC since I started making rockets, guess I helped a little.

#### lalligood

##### Well-Known Member
A couple things to think about:

Old cliche: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

"Good composers borrow; great composers steal."
--Igor Stravinsky

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by shrox
I try to be different...

I have notice a lot more designs away from the 3FNC since I started making rockets, guess I helped a little.
...that and the ever present design software that's now available. That's not to say that your average cocktail napkin will ever go out of style. I was in getting my loi changed the other day and came up with something I'm sure will be...well....very cool!

#### Jerry Irvine

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by nomopbo

I made a two stage rocket. The sustainer was a Baby Bertha. The booster I made myself, but it was totally inspired by the Semroc Firefly.
Now I tweak a fin or change the nosecone so its a 4FNC (no longer a B.Bertha) The booster is already tweaked. Now it doesn't look like a Firefly or a Bertha, so now I can package it as a kit?
Yes.

But if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.

#### Jerry Irvine

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by Dr.Zooch
A good example is my ant-scale Saturn V occupies the same basic space as an Estes K-39, but I spent 8 months making sure it was different. This accomplished two goals 1) I made a far better version of the original and 2) I captured a lot of the rocketeers who miss the olk K-39. I spent a lot of time insuring that every method in construction and most of the parts were not the same as the Estes kit, so as to not steal their product. The whole thing started out by me trying to clone a K-39. When I finished I looked at it and said to myself "I forgot how much that kit sucks." It was then that I set out to create my own line of rockets, led by the Saturn V.
Given the buzz over your kit, one suspects you are succeeding on quality if not sales.

I have built more Centuri Saturn V's than you have

Jerry

#### rstaff3

##### Oddroc-eteer
Originally posted by Jerry Irvine
Yes.

But if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
Good advice which is too seldom followed IMO. (this comment is general and not oriented to our hobby)

#### Dr.Zooch

##### Well-Known Member
Given the buzz over your kit, one suspects you are succeeding on quality if not sales.

I have built more Centuri Saturn V's than you have

Jerry
HA! I love it!

Indeed I've never built a Centuri Saturn V... as a kid I could not afford one... besides...plastic...yeccccch.

If you think there's buzz now- just wait until the 2005 kits appear. That "buzz" may sound like the static test of an F-1 engine. All I'll say now is they'll be FUN all the way around.

#### illini

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by Dr.Zooch
If you think there's buzz now- just wait until the 2005 kits appear. That "buzz" may sound like the static test of an F-1 engine. All I'll say now is they'll be FUN all the way around.
You are one sick little insect teasing us like that. Vendor ethics???? What about the ethics of vendors water torturing people with drips of information, but never giving us the whole picture? Seems like a major ethics violation right there!

#### CTimm

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by jflis
Now, did I "steal" the Sprite design. Well no, I was influenced by it.
Were you also "influenced" by the Estes Rocket Plan #53 Aero-Fin when designing the Triskelion?

You've made enough distinct design changes to rightfully claim originality like losing the swept fins, clipping the wingtip points and upscaling to bt-55 from a bt-30, but the base design is still there from 1968.

Can the Fliskit/Space-Twins be far behind????
Would that be FlisTwins?

-Chris

#### cls

##### Well-Known Member
gee, I thought Triskileon was a 3x of the Custom Tristar (2x fins + plates). I am sure there must be an Estes in that 2x configuration (Jayhawk?) but all of them trace back to the Germans' F55, which came from ???

Jim, I talked with Jack at some length about Tres - is it or isn't it. he thinks it is but to me it always seemed to be a 3x Deuce. I don't see the Snooper in it except very superficially.

And I like my Tumbleweed, too. if I wanted a Sprite I would have just cloned it. so neener neener. or something like that.

#### sandman

##### Well-Known Member
OK...enough!

I have to chime in.

First off, yea...I've made some clone...but I did get permission "in writing" from Estes on my clones.

Now upscale...downscales...well, is that really the same or not...kind of an ethical question...

For example, if I make a copy of an upscale BNC-50X cone and make it a BNC-70X size is that an unethical copy?

Now if Someone make a "clone" of an old kit and wants to upscale it...is he violating anything? It's not the same size as the original!

Lots of people want copies of their favorite old kit...are they to be denied because it's OOP?

Say your friend asks you to make up the parts for a kit...are you violating any ethical rules? Probably not. What if more friends ask? When does it become wrong? Two kits, four kits...when?...if it's an up or downscale...is it "different enough"...or is it wrong.

If it's the identical design but a different color...or different decals...sheesh! when is the line drawn...or is there a line?

So many variables...if the original had die cut fins...your new one is laser cut...does that change.

Are there no new ideas? Well, after 40 some years...darn near everything has been done.

What about "parts kits"? BMS and a few other companies have "parts kits" but you have to go to JimZ's site to get the plans...so what!

I make a "few" kits to sell HERE to my friends! That's not wrong...When I started in this forum there were less than 200 members...now it's a good sized city! Does that make it wrong now?

Basically...no one is getting hurt. People are getting stuff they want...And Estes keeps on selling BP motors!

As for scale...all bets are OFF!! You can do whatever you want.

NASA owns those designs and they are PUBLIC property!

Wait...would I get in trouble for the Soyuz...Russian Mafia

My thugs are bigger that thier thugs!

#### shrox

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by sandman
For example, if I make a copy of an upscale BNC-50X cone and make it a BNC-70X size is that an unethical copy?

Now if Someone make a "clone" of an old kit and wants to upscale it...is he violating anything? It's not the same size as the original!
Any size Millenium Falcon will get Lucas on your butt if you try to sell it. Size changes do not get around copyright laws...

#### jflis

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by CTimm
Were you also "influenced" by the Estes Rocket Plan #53 Aero-Fin when designing the Triskelion?

You've made enough distinct design changes to rightfully claim originality like losing the swept fins, clipping the wingtip points and upscaling to bt-55 from a bt-30, but the base design is still there from 1968.

Can the Fliskit/Space-Twins be far behind????
Would that be FlisTwins?

-Chris
Interesting as I don't recal having ever heard of the Aero-Fin (any links to a picture or drawing?)

Ditto the Tristar...

#### jflis

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by shrox
Any size Millenium Falcon will get Lucas on your butt if you try to sell it. Size changes do not get around copyright laws...
]
well, yes and no...

The name "Mellenium Falcon" is trademarked (whether it is registered or not, I don't know)

The *shape* of the ship *may* also be trademarked, but I don't know for sure (easy enough to check at the PTO)

However, neither the name nor the shape can be "copyrighted", only the "script" can be

#### sandman

##### Well-Known Member
Any size Millenium Falcon will get Lucas on your butt if you try to sell it. Size changes do not get around copyright laws...
So, if we were in a Star Wars forum...as if this forum wasn't quite geeky enough! And I came up with say 15 cast models of a discontinued Millenium Falcon in a size that everyone wanted and sold them here in the fictional "Star Wars Forum" I would have the Rath of Lucas on my case?

Bring it on!!!

Take yer best shot!

#### SecretSquirrel

##### Well-Known Member
Not saying it would happen, but it's certianly possible. Let's say there was a line of "not Star Trek" kits on the market. Now let's say you market a 'survey class starship'

Paramount would most certianly take you to court if needed to shut you down. I know, because I know who produced that kit. He doesn't make them anymore.

#### Hospital_Rocket

##### Well-Known Member
Sorry Jim but I could not resist...

The name "Mellenium Falcon" is trademarked (whether it is registered or not, I don't know)
You could probably build and sell all the saucer shaped "Mellenium Falcon" models you want

Now if you tried to build a Millenium Falcon then the force would be called down on you...

I'm just trying to hit 1000 posts by 12/31.

##### Well-Known Member
I think the premise of this thread dealt more with a trend to look like not copy certain designs. Having said that, we are ALL under certain influences which define our designs even ever so subtle.

How many times have you seen a rocket and cocked your head slightly, scratched your chin and mentally added a fin here, a decal there.

#### Dr.Zooch

##### Well-Known Member
Actually if you go to the US Patent and Trademark web site, you'll get a real lesson in true copyright and trademark law. As an author of 12 books and a cartoon strip, I've spent some time there. Indeed you'd be amazed at what is registered and how hard it is to trademark stuff without a good lawyer. Mine cost $250 just to pick up the phone- and for D.C., that's cheap. I once had a publisher- yes, a publisher- tell me that I could not use the common term "IFR refresher" in my cartoon strip because his company held the copyright. NONSENSE! So I looked up all of his publication titles that were common terms and used them all in context in my next cartoon. https://www.klydemorris.com/strips.cfm?strip_ID=961 . The same goes for rockets. What I protect in my kits are the original artwork, the instruction text and the methods of construction. If someone clones one of my kits for their own use- fair use, no foul. If they start printing off wrap sheets from my kits and selling them- major trouble, many problem$ for the thief. Rocketeers tend to alter and personalize kits- no problem there either.That simply adds to the fun and often they show me how to make better kits.

Of course, teasing you folks about up-coming kits is not nice of me... but ethical? Hey, in the words of Jim Rockford, "On my good days I'm boarderline."

#### CTimm

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by jflis
Interesting as I don't recal having ever heard of the Aero-Fin (any links to a picture or drawing?)

Ditto the Tristar...
Aerofin is at JimZ site, under DOM, as plan #53.

#### sandman

##### Well-Known Member
Getting away from the "published" stuff.

But a rocket design...there are only so many ways to do 3 or 4 fins and a nose cone. Varying the shape of the fin just slightly can change a model dramatically.

Nose cones...well...they may be recognizable as say a BNC-50x but it's an elliptical shape...you can't copyright an ellips...or can you???

The name...well look up this in a search...Estes Sprint...

There is a guy named Estes that drives sprint cars... go figure!

#### Dr.Zooch

##### Well-Known Member
Nose cones...well...they may be recognizable as say a BNC-50x but it's an elliptical shape...you can't copyright an ellips...or can you???
Only if you draw it yourself... Then under the Bono law you can copyright that drawing ;-))

#### CTimm

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by sandman
But a rocket design...there are only so many ways to do 3 or 4 fins and a nose cone. Varying the shape of the fin just slightly can change a model dramatically.
BINGO!

And snappy decals make a average rocket design POP!