Save Up-cycling

It has come to my attention in the Etsy-verse that shops who enjoy up-cycling and reusing are being targeted and bullied. We live in a wasteful world and being able to take an existing item and turn it into something new and usable is a great way to reduce the trash building up. While home crafters everywhere have been following in the footsteps of the resourceful women that have gone before us a single person spent the time and money to patent a simple idea. You may see the patent here.

Now the thing about patents is that they are VERY specific and in this case lengthy. The patent in question has some loose verbiage trying to encompass all “methods” that resemble the one laid out therein. The reality is that in order to commit patent infringement one must follow the patent to the letter. Any deviation as small as seam allowance, stitch length etc mean it is an original idea and not infringement. Just think of all the different blankets with sleeves on the market. sure there are different names for it, but they’re all essentially the same, but “different” enough for government work.

I can see you are wondering what this has to do with me? The person that holds said patent is scouring Etsy and have all the listings of up-cyled children’s clothes removed. Per Etsy’s TOU intellectual property infringement must be reported by the holder and then the burden of proof falls on the seller who has had their listing removed. Run a quick search on “upcycled men’s shirt dress” in the children’s category on Etsy. A whole category on Etsy has been single handedly decimated by someone claiming their patent has the power of God when the reality is it more closely resembles pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

As individuals we can all report back to Etsy and prove our process is our own and maybe if we get a person on the Market Place Integrity Team who knows anything about patent law we will get our listings reinstated. The big problem is that we aren’t fixing the main issue, which is that someone is misusing the system and the only way to really protect ourselves and our fellow sellers is to eliminate the problem at the source. It’s tempting to pick up our pitch forks and head into the woods, but it’s my understanding that the process to having a patent overturned is fairly simple and involves little lawyer involvement. The Patent Office even outlines it on it’s website. So I’m asking my fellow crafters to join me. We are stronger united. Take pictures of your process, find old patterns, show pictures of your items and band together to show that taking a men’s shirt and utilizing the seams and buttons to create children’s clothing items is not new. The patent was applied for in December of 2007, but I know this process has been around for decades. This patent should never have been approved. Up-cycling belongs to all of us and it’s our responsibility to our Earth to do so. It is against the spirit of up-cycling to patent a common idea and then bully others so that they can’t do it.

Feel free to message me, leave comments etc, share with other bloggers, etc. My goal is to put it all together and submit it for review by the USPO. The more hard proof we collect the easier it will be to nip this in the bud and then we can all return to our regularly scheduled crafting.

Edited 1-21-2013

I’ve come back to add that we have created a Facebook group as a place to discuss the events as they unfold and build our case together. You can find the group here:!/groups/277682995690557/

Thank you all for your support! We’re in this together!





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16 Responses to Save Up-cycling

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