Is there a Lawyer in the house?
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    Is there a Lawyer in the house?

    I have a question which probably requires the advice of a lawyer or someone who has in depth knowledge of Trade Marks & Registration Marks.

    Is it a viloation of law to reproduce such things as decals or labels even though the decals & labels
    are declared obsolete by the manufacturer, as well as the items that those decals & labels would be applied to.

    This question is always presenting itself when we talk about restoration of no longer made vintage equipement. The way I see it, is that if I have a tractor that's pushing almost fifty years old, & the parts for it are no longer made & the equipement itself is obsoleted by the manufacturer, I think I would have the legal right to make a reproduction of the item or part as long as I clearly indicate that it's a reproduction and has no association with the original manufacturer.

    Strangely enough, isin't this what the chinese & a lot of other countries are doing right now & appear to be getting away with it. Everything from shoe laces to cotton swabs are flooding the retail market place & no one has the ability to stop it or the willingness to stop it. Yet if someone here dares to reproduce a single decal or other sundry item, the giants are ready to destroy the little guy, but have no problem looking the other way regarding non obsolete business killing fake products comeing down the Ho Chi Min Trail. Anyone have any thoughts on this.

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    56FordGuy's Avatar
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    I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.

    However, the answer is simply 'maybe'. While JD may not currently be using that particular image, if they copyrighted it then they may still maintain the rights to it. Copyrights last a long time. If it's in a typical JD color, then one would expect that they have trademarked that exact color. Trademarks can usually be considered abandoned somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 years of inactivity. It becomes an issue of 'likelihood of confusion'. Deere does not own the term "Model 70". I can build a boat, or a car, or even a tractor and assign it to be a Model 70. I can print stickers and advertise it as a Model 70. However, if my sticker that says Model 70 looks similar enough to the JD Model 70 of years ago, then they can make a claim based on likelihood of confusion, that the sticker was meant to confuse the consumer.

    With regard to China, they pay no mind to laws like that and fighting them over it has to be done in the Chinese court system. It's a losing battle. There are knock off, imitation products flowing out of that country at a breakneck pace. We've all heard of the ladies' purses and expensive clothes being faked for years, but I have ran across fakes that include high end flashlights, along with firearms magazines and accessories. The quality on some of the fakes is very good, and distinguishing them can actually be fairly difficult.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 56FordGuy View Post
    I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.

    However, the answer is simply 'maybe'. While JD may not currently be using that particular image, if they copyrighted it then they may still maintain the rights to it. Copyrights last a long time. If it's in a typical JD color, then one would expect that they have trademarked that exact color. Trademarks can usually be considered abandoned somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 years of inactivity.
    I agree with you. But having made my living at one of the very big companies in this country, I know that some trademarks are renewed without using them publicly. it might seem that the trademark was abandoned, but it is not, it is just not used officially. Copyrights last much longer and can also be renewed by the owner of the right. One can see this with the automobile industry which brings old name plates back to life now and than.

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    Technically, even selling photocopies of an 80-year-old out of print Deere manual is against the law. The places selling Deere decals (for more than a few months anyway), have always been authorized by Deere, as far as I'm aware. I think the reason it seems to be legal is because in most cases what it would cost to sue the person making the decals would be much more than anything Deere has to gain, especially if Deere doesn't even sell the decals (or any other manufacturer of some item), so you rarely hear of lawsuits being filed.

    Another consideration is that even if Deere doesn't profit directly from selling old decals (or other parts), it only adds to the Deere image when guys brag about having 90- or 100-year-old pieces of Deere equipment running and still being able to get parts for them.
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    Thankfully I'm not an ambulance chasing shyster lawyer; but my SWAG is that if you make/have made the the decals for your own personal use, you'll be OK. But if you try to make a buck by selling them without Mama Deere's blessing, you'll probably have their legal department on your case.
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    green and red man's Avatar
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    There have been some instances where folks made fake front wieghts with the IH logos on them and had them on display at shows. The weights were on small scaled down versions of big tractors. Not sure if they were for sale or not, but some people from Case came to investigate. I think the people found to be in violation were told what they were doing was not legal. Don't know much more than that.




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    I know of a guy that's a supporting vendor of WFM who got into some trouble with JD legal for reproducing an out of production Deere part. In this day, IP and proprietary rights are taken seriously. We have a few federal and state agencies now that will come after any one found in violation of their laws and regulations. Fines and prison terms can be leveled against violators. Rather or not Deere legal will seek prosecution against anyone for reproducing decals isn't likely, but is a probability.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 56FordGuy View Post
    I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.

    However, the answer is simply 'maybe'. While JD may not currently be using that particular image, if they copyrighted it then they may still maintain the rights to it. Copyrights last a long time. If it's in a typical JD color, then one would expect that they have trademarked that exact color. Trademarks can usually be considered abandoned somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 years of inactivity. It becomes an issue of 'likelihood of confusion'. Deere does not own the term "Model 70". I can build a boat, or a car, or even a tractor and assign it to be a Model 70. I can print stickers and advertise it as a Model 70. However, if my sticker that says Model 70 looks similar enough to the JD Model 70 of years ago, then they can make a claim based on likelihood of confusion, that the sticker was meant to confuse the consumer.

    With regard to China, they pay no mind to laws like that and fighting them over it has to be done in the Chinese court system. It's a losing battle. There are knock off, imitation products flowing out of that country at a breakneck pace. We've all heard of the ladies' purses and expensive clothes being faked for years, but I have ran across fakes that include high end flashlights, along with firearms magazines and accessories. The quality on some of the fakes is very good, and distinguishing them can actually be fairly difficult.
    Since I posted the original thread here, I've read all these opinions to my question. I'm starting to think that if one makes items for personal use & not for profit, no one including big brother Green will give two hoots about it. The next level would be if somone has a little side business going on in their garage or basement, & maybe makes a few knock offs for a little profit no one will care either. As stated in one of the threads here, it would not be worth the expense to shut that little guy down, even if you could find him & prove that he/she is the guilty party.

    But the best of all worlds would be that if your cranking out fake decals, manuals, or fake Smith & Wesson's, all you really need to do is somewhere on that knock off is print "Made in China" in a type font about the size of fruit fly poop, and then even the big guys will leave you alone. So I guess you can go big time bogus as long as you say the magic words, "made in China".

    Now please realize that these are just the thoughts I'm having based on the comments posted here to my original post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Mo View Post
    I know of a guy that's a supporting vendor of WFM who got into some trouble with JD legal for reproducing an out of production Deere part. In this day, IP and proprietary rights are taken seriously. We have a few federal and state agencies now that will come after any one found in violation of their laws and regulations. Fines and prison terms can be leveled against violators. Rather or not Deere legal will seek prosecution against anyone for reproducing decals isn't likely, but is a probability.
    I agree with you on the IP & proprietary rights. And I feel that unless you are doing something that is of a major threat to a large company like JD, they will probably leave you alone. But what I find the most interesting is your comment regarding "federal and state agencies". Your probably correct on that. Of course the biggest thieve & crooks can't allow little Mr. Nobody from makeing a couple of bucks that might might cut into the profits made by legalized theft of our profit, if any. No sir, can't have ambitious enterprising citizens making any money. Not even from the single sale of a five cent glass of lemonade.

    When I was a kid, I wanted an english racer bike. My parents were hard working & great provides, but we did not have much cash for the extras. Because I lived in the city, I built myself a shoe shine box & went out on the street shinning people's shoes for fifteen cents a pop & earned half the money needed for the bike. Then my dad gave me the other half needed to buy the bike. But today, I probably would be ordered to stop operating a shoe sihne business without a license, & they probably would track down my dad & give him a fine he could not pay & throwing him in jail for encourageing me to earn the money I needed the old fashion way. Makes ya wonder about the stupid people we elect to come up with this stuff. Sorry for wondering off topic, on a thread that I started.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maddog View Post
    Since I posted the original thread here, I've read all these opinions to my question. I'm starting to think that if one makes items for personal use & not for profit, no one including big brother Green will give two hoots about it. The next level would be if somone has a little side business going on in their garage or basement, & maybe makes a few knock offs for a little profit no one will care either.:
    You can reproduce any copy right protected material or other intellectual property rights protected stuff for you own use/consumption (like copying a Cd, pages of a magazine/book, etc.) as long as you do not distribute (even free of charge) these materials to the general public.

    The next level would get you into trouble with my employer, provided they would find out about it!

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