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ThReAdTeDs - Traditional, crochet, fiber, patterns, supplies by Berta Hesen-Minten
Past Time Bears - Artist bears designed and handcrafted by Sue Ann Holcomb

shantell Apple Dumpling Designs
Willamette Valley Oregon
Posts: 3,128

I have a question that has been on my mind for some time and now that I've recently purchased two patterns from different artists it's bothering me even more.   I understand the copyright infrigments laws and would never try to sell or reproduce someone elses work and call it my own.   I have these two patterns that came from two different artists...the pictures on the pattern look entirely different which as we all know is easy to accomplish with different fur, eye placement, ear placement, needle sculpting, etc., however, when you look at the pattern pieces themselves...they are for the most part identical.

So...my question...how do you protect yourself from being accused of using someone elses design or even mistakenly perhaps doing so...and how do you protect your own designs? I've been doodling around with my own patterns & designs but am a bit nervous about it.

Thanks for any insight you may have.

Shantell

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Double Oak, Texas
Posts: 19,985

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Nancy Tillberg has a great article on copyrights.  Actually, I saw it on the Edinburgh's Classroom board.  Those of you that are members of that board might be able to find it better than I, or steer these ladies toward Nancy's website.  My understanding is that as soon as you have an original design, it is tacitly copyrighted.  In other words, it is protected under copyright even though you haven't registered it.  I have never gone to the trouble of officially copyrighting any of my designs.  I have patterns for sale on my website and with Beary Cheap in Australia.  I do put a copyright symbol on those patterns and request that the user NOT make the bear for sale purposes.  I read somewhere that those artists who allow their patterns to be published or sell them are just asking to be copied.  My feeling is that when I started out making bears, I appreciated the fact that there were established artists willing to share their knowledge and allow beginning bearmakers to practice on their patterns.
Think Nancy Tillberg's site is http://www.northcountryteddybears.com/  and the article will be under the "General" topic . . . subtopic "Copyright Policy".

shantell Apple Dumpling Designs
Willamette Valley Oregon
Posts: 3,128

Thanks for the replies...

I actually have Nancy's book and have read her copyright information on her website which all makes complete sense.   Her articles are actually what made me think about it in the first place.  I really hadn't given it much thought before that.  I just found it very interesting that I have two patterns from two artists that are basically identical yet both claim to have copyright to them...interesting.   I am just curious about how everyone does this part and what they do not only protect themselves from being accused but from having their work in a sense stolen.  So...I had to ask the question.

Thanks again...

Wisdom Bears Wisdom Bears
Ayrshire, Scotland.
Posts: 951

Hi All,
             Its much more fun making all your own patterns , then no-one can say anything . Lots of Artists sell there own patterns ,but they are not to be sold ,for your own use. I only did about 3 patterns then I started creating my own which is more time consuming but at the end of the day it is your bear and no one elses. 

   Hugs Rita xxx

Zagzagael Posts: 43

Now that I've become completely "hooked" with this AMAZING handicraft - I, too, have been scratching my head over the pattern/originality/copyright issues. I've bought several patterns, several kits and downloaded several patterns - so that's more than a decent handful bear_happy and yep, they are all pretty much interchangeable. I certainly understand the desire to protect originality (I need to do this in my field, too, so I'm not ignorant of that.) but there comes a point wherein there is just a limited way to craft a bear/bunny/cat/etc., leaving originality to the actual interpretation of the pattern pieces. Material and skill become the place wherein the artist best expresses her/himself in this craft.

I guess at the end of the day it's a bit frustrating and somewhat insulting to feel that one is playing some sort of moral dodge-ball with patterns and the end product.

Perhaps there are some wholly "original" patterns out there that I just haven't found yet? But right now I'm not seeing anything "original" in over ten patterns I have here yet they are all copyrighted and boldly stated that creations from such are not to be sold. *ponders*

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Double Oak, Texas
Posts: 19,985

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Zag, I assume you have gone to our library above and looked at the "Copyrights/Trademarks" section?  Trust me, there are LOTS of 'original' patterns out there, but the traditional bear design (which a lot of us do) has similar pattern pieces.  There are many ways to tweak these designs so that the bears end up looking quite different.

Zagzagael Posts: 43

I haven't found that section of the site yet, Sue Ann - I will take a look! Thank you!

I have no plans to sell any bears - my goal is to keep my hands busy and maybe make some really nice gifts. My concern/question here is really about this strict adherence to the "idea" of originality. Yes, I'm focussed mainly on the vintage, traditional looking bears and I have not found any difference of note in any of the patterns I've got for that style. And again, these are patterns which all claim copyright to originality. I do agree that tweaks are made and at that point, imo, the results seem to be completely dependent upon the materials chosen and the skill of the bear artist not the originality of a pattern piece.

dangerbears Dangerbears
Wisconsin
Posts: 5,991
Website
SueAnn wrote:

There are many ways to tweak these designs so that the bears end up looking quite different.

I think what Sue Ann means here is that tweaking one's pattern pieces (designs) results in bigger differences among bears than you might imagine. A head gusset is a head gusset, but small differences in the shape can lead to very different-looking heads.

Zagzagael wrote:

the results seem to be completely dependent upon the materials chosen and the skill of the bear artist not the originality of a pattern piece

I see what you mean by this, too. Recently, I took one of Nancy Tillberg's classes and used one of her patterns. The resulting bear looked very much like one of mine, so the bear-maker has a lot to do with the final "look" of the bear. To be safe, if you do decide to sell, just give credit to the pattern-maker. (They usually just ask you not to sell the pattern and not to mass-produce the bear.) Meanwhile, use and enjoy those patterns you have. That's what they're for, says me.  bear_original

Becky

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Double Oak, Texas
Posts: 19,985

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Right on, Becky . . . thanks!

Zagzagael Posts: 43

It would be fantastic to see - pictorially - some of these differences in such a similar design with just small tweaking of the pattern pieces.

janicemarie Gresswell Forest Bears
melbourne
Posts: 62

I find these topics fascinating.

As a toymaker I have had someone take a pattern I was giving away free on my website and "adjust it" and then have it published! To be honest I was appalled! She claimed that becasue she knitted the body instead of sewing it it was different enough to be hers, even though the "look" was a spitting image of my design.

It put me off sharing patterns again for a long time.

However.

Sharing is a wonderful part of any hobby. It's how people learn and turn into creators themselves.

My question for the group is;

Is using a technique from a pattern infringing on copyright?

I have a specific instance I'd like your input on.

There is a pattern with a gathered tummy in one of the recent bear creations mags. I though this was really clever so I have included a gathered tummy one of my patterns I am designing at the moment. My bear will look nothing like the bear in the mag, and my pattern pieces only resemblance is the fact it has the mechanics of a gathered tummy.

Am I doing something wrong?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

We were typing away at the same time, Janice-marie, though you're doing it 'tomorrow'!
No, I don't think you're infringing if you also include a gathered tummy seam: there are too many different ways to accomplish this.
Is yours going to be an absolute duplication of the one you've seen?
Are you using it just to gain puffy fullness instead of darting or to replicate the look that it gives the particular teddy you saw?

You have to examine your reasoning and the 'look' your seam/gathering will give, (hopefully it's different) to make sure that it isn't the same.
Most darts are placed in pretty much the same spots as everyone else's and those aren't infringement.
Gathering seams may just happen to be newer and a novel approach.
Take a technique and make it unique, that's all.

janicemarie Gresswell Forest Bears
melbourne
Posts: 62

Hi Bobbie.
It's terrible being in the future sometimes! mondays always come while you guys are still having sundays!

Aside from the style of dart (one side gather into the other my pattern piece looks no similar to the original than any other bear body looks like another. My top is narrower, the bum is wider etc.
My motivation is simply that this is a clever way to achieve a plump belly. I haven't actually made up the original pattern but I have seen photos and I'm quite sure my design body looks nothing like the original.

It's good to have some feedback on this, I love designing patterns and new shapes so much it can totally distract me from actually finishing bears!

Jen

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Hmm, now you've got me intrigued - which is good!
Go for it - and let us know when you put the bear in the Gallery section, too !

lovenshire Love and Cuddle Nursery
Missouri
Posts: 945
Website

I have been looking at this question for some time.  I would never infringe on someone's copywright knowingly but...after so many years of teddy bears can you actually make a pattern that has not been tried before?  I designed a pattern that I really like and was quite proud of it until I saw a bear almost exactly like it.  Now I know she didn't see mine and I hadn't seen hers but they are quite similiar. That is what got me to thinking about this subject.  And, perhaps you saw a bear some time ago and not really remembering you make a pattern that looks like a really cute bear...not remembering that you had seen one similiar years ago?  There are so many IF'S in this thing it makes my head swim!
By the way, the bear in my siggy is the one I made the pattern for!

wubbiebear Braille Teddies
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Posts: 671

I have a question.  Is it possible to create a pattern if you don't have vision?

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Hmmm... I've heard of ppl who can create a bear w/o a pattern but not a heard of a pattern w/o a vision. Or thought about that direction but perhaps others have; one nice thing about being in an artistic field is that it's free-range: there are so many different paths that everyone travels to arrive at their own journey's end!

Personally and this is only my personal opinion!! because in miniature we do work in such tiny fractions of inches and an 8th or a 16th of an inch difference between 2 seam lengths that need to match can still cause a bulge or puckering in many fabrics, more on one side than on the other - that I find it a little difficult to see how others can just 'imaginatively cut out fabric' w/o a pattern, and sew up a bear (or anything else) with the pieces.
That's a little too serendipitous-sounding to me; if it works for others - great, though I've never actually seen it happen in person, but more like one of those passed on myths.

There are many approaches to pattern-making: some first draw images of how the finished bear will look. I can only manage cave-drawing-stick-figures, so after realizing what my first patterns would result in as bears, I began to make changes directly to the pattern lines as I drew out new patterns.
If I was uncertain about the outcome, I'd cut the new design out of muslin or scrap fabric and quickly baste and stuff for a rough idea of shape/proportion/movement/etc and tweak from there on paper for a final finished design.
With practice one can train your eye and mind to know how a particular drawn pattern line will behave as flexible biasing fabric.
I've derailed the Copyright portion end of the question but this was still along the Originality part.
Interesting aspect to consider, wubbiebear!

Linda Benson Bears
Tasmania
Posts: 562

Bobbie, Wubbiebear is blind. I think he/she means no vision in the blind sense not a "vision" in the artistic sense  bear_original

wubbiebear Braille Teddies
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Posts: 671

Yep, my eyeballs don't work.  I use the braille method, which in sewing means that you stab yourself 800 times a day and then you either swear or make up your own swear words, my favorite being "OH VISTA!!!!!!!"

Snookums Posts: 285

wubbiebear, I think that you can do anything! I checked out your first bear. Great job!

Lisa

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Well, where have I been?? If this was mentioned in the past I missed it.... I'm sorry to've misinterpreted your question wubbie; I love your answer about your 'eyeballs' - I've got several body parts that don't work either!

Is this too forward or invasive of me to ask—I beg your pardon—at this late date: how you do develop your pattern-making?  I hope you don't read this as the slightest bit of insensitivity—as one creative person to another—I'd like to know.
I have given this same idea much thought over the years and am comforted by the thought that of all of the skills I've mastered, the one that I could still do if I lose my sight would be to knit, provided someone else picked out my choice of color. I learned to knit at about 5 and it remains my favorite skill.

I once actually knit in bed one sleepless night, s  l  o  w  l  y    moving the arm on the side away from my husband, thinking he was sound asleep. Feeling pretty pleased with myself I was knitting away for half an hour when I was startled by his voice growling, "Will you put that d***** thing away?"
I then began the habit I continue to today of listening to recorded books on tape or overnight radio, with an internal sleep timer and ear bud headphones, if I can't sleep.....

But I really am interested in how you spatially develop a pattern, if you don't mind me asking, as I am relying on the one hand art that I know I can actually touch, feel and count (sts) if I couldn't see the work.
Are you asking the forum how one would go about it or have you actually developed patterns?
If not, I'm sure there are probably some industrial engineers here who could give suggestions - - - but they would first have to understand the mechanics of a standard teddy bear pattern of what-goes-where-and-why I should think!
best regards - Bobbie

wubbiebear Braille Teddies
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Posts: 671

No, I haven't developed a pattern, but I would like to maybe sell my bears someday and I didn't know how that would work if I have to create my own pattern because that seems like Greek to me.  Of course if I ever sold a bear I made from someone else's pattern, I would ask them and give them credit because I wouldn't want to be a jerk and take credit for anybody's ideas.

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

As an offshoot of this topic, I'd like to relate something we experienced in Germany about 10 years ago: just like Schulte factory, this factory is located right in a block/neighborhood of residences. We were in a small private tour of perhaps 15 ppl visiting the 'Green' Hermann Bear factory and were given the official tour by both the brother and sister of the brother/sister ownership team, throughout the 2-story building and then allowed to look at will, asking questions and take all the time we wanted. It was wonderful to see how the small crew worked in each room, at each stage of the bears' development.

All of the pattern templates were cut of ¼" or ⅜" fiberboard and hung on nails, one pattern per nail around the entire perimeter of the largest room. In another room, several women were just sewing noses with black wool yarn, very efficiently, placing the exact number of sts in the exact places on the muzzle of each bear. Upstairs, a long light airy room was used for cutting the fabric: I believe they cut several layers of fabric with a band-saw sort of machine around those fiberboard templates. At the end on that room were the sewing machines, with about 8 women sewing. Some women took work home as well.

Back down on the first floor there were three men stuffing the sewn bears with wood-wool/excelsior. They sat at a table which had a sort of short metal rod clamped and protruding up about 8" in front of them; this was to help press and manipulate the stuffing into the narrow tight areas and to help pack it in really firmly. The men paid us no mind; their maneuvers were all very compact and practiced. I wouldn't say machine-like but 'spare' and efficient. You know by looking at someone when they can do a job in the least number of strokes or motions. It was a real treat to have seen how manufactured bears are created.

We were allowed to make a few purchases, though they aren't particularly set up as a retail or gift shop. It was quitting time for the employees while we waited outside the front door for the rest of our group to finish up paying. That was when I noticed one of the 'nose-sewing' ladies standing on the front step, holding the door open for quite a few minutes. Finally she turned and out came one of the gentleman 'stuffers.' He put his hand on her shoulder and together they turned down the sidewalk and left the factory, walking up the block and out of sight.
It was an enormous awakening to realize that all of the time I'd watched this man stuff at least 2 complete bears, he was blind and was feeding the excelsior in by touch. His bears looked exactly like those of the other two men as they all lined the finished bears up.  Amazing - and I was thrilled to have experienced this.

wubbiebear Braille Teddies
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Posts: 671

Cool.  I'm pretty good at stuffing bears.  I do it by hand, though.

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

To go back to Shantell and Zag's original questions - there is no doubt that SueAnn's answer is the kernel of the matter: most basic bear patterns ARE nearly the same design, with a little tweaking of a bit more length or shortening/narrowing or widening/a dart or not...

True design comes with total change, in completely changing where the seams will be and in shaping the body parts to create an entirely new 'species' if I can call it that. Look at our avatars alone in this short list of replies— there is no way that the same type of pattern could have created these same bears.

You've said that your pattern pieces all look basically the same though the pictured bears look different (choice of fabric, stuffing methods, needle- & scissor-sculpting all bring about amazing changes to even bears of the same pattern.)
Perhaps what your library of patterns holds right now are patterns you subconsciously chose because they represented an 'ideal' style of bear in your mind (which is why the pattern pieces are all very similar), and as your bearmaking skills evolve, so will the image (in your mind's eye) of what the ideal bear looks like. This all comes with experience and we've all gone through the same thing.
Very VERY few have the innate talents to be able to skip these steps and leapfrog over this growth process w/o going through the learning activity called Experience.
Relax and enjoy your journey!

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