Q: Is it legal to 3D Model off a patent?

Is it legal to 3D Model off a patent, especially if it's expired?

Is it a copyright or trademark infringement if i share pics of the 3D model?

1 Lawyer Answer
Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Moorestown, NJ

A: If a patent is expired, then whatever is in the patent is generally considered in public domain, meaning, that anyone should be able to use it. There may be some weird exception to this, but that is the whole idea behind patents: the inventor discloses the invention to the society, and return the society lets him go after infringers for a limited time. Once the time expires, it belongs to the society.

However, you do need to be careful, though: there may be other patents out there. For example, consider the following scenario that often happens in industry: a patent to a widget expired, and in the meantime, the technology has moved along and there is now an improved process of making that widget. If this improved process is covered by a second patent, you will not be able to make the widget by the better and you'd get stuck making the widget the way described in the expired patent. This would put you at a disadvantage over the companies making the widget by the improved process.

With regards to the trademark, you should not sell the product under the original name, but come up with a new name, trade dress, etc.

With regards to copyright, patents are generally not considered copyrightable.

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