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Pattern Companies
Group Hall Of Shame Members
Page Added March 22, 2009

Last Updated - November 25, 2010

August 20, 2010 - UPDATE -
And the lies just keep on coming. read our deconstruction of the McCall's Quilting article in their Sept/Oct issue, titled Know Your Rights (And Wrongs), A Copyright Primer for Quilters by Janet Jo Smith, B.A., J.D. This error-filled, self-serving tripe is being foisted upon the public by a company that has no registered copyrights for individual patterns? McCall's is lying. But that is what the pattern companies do.

Then, to compound the error, McCall's Quilting followed up with more copyright garbage in the Nov/Dec issue. We present the two articles, with our rebuttals: People Are Talking - from the Editors, where McCall's Quilting grants to buyers rights that McCall's Quilting does not have, and People Are Talking - from the Author, where Janet Jo Smith backtracks from some of her previous statements but she still is wrong.


There are so many pattern companies out there. And almost uniformly, they all lie to consumers about what can and cannot be done with their patterns. This is called the Doctrine of Copyright Misuse by the federal courts. On this page we decided to concentrate on the larger companies and those that just plain pissed us off. What we say about Simplicity and McCall's applies to all of the pattern companies as far as we can see.

There really are just two really large pattern companies because McCall's Pattern Company owns both Butterick and Vogue. As of March 22, 2009, a search of the copyright records using the word "Simplicity" yielded 339 copyrights registered. Just to prove our point, and perhaps the fact that we are anal, we have gone through these copyrights to give you an analysis. To see a complete listing of the 339 Simplicity copyrights we located on March 22, 2009, click here. This listing is not formatted. It is presented just as we did our cut and paste from the copyright office web site. You are free to go to http://www.copyright.gov/ and see for yourself.

Many of these copyrights were for magazines, catalogs, presentation materials, etc. VA, or visual arts appear to be the primary copyright category where we would find copyrighted patterns. But we found none. Zero. Zilch. Nada. What we did find when we expected to find copyrighted patterns did not surprise us all that much.


Take for example Simplicity copyright #VA0001209757, registered June 19, 2003, for New Look : no. 6590. The copyright registration does not say anything about New Look : no. 6590 which is for a front zipped jacket. The copyright application title is New Look pattern no. 6590 envelope, NOT for a pattern for front zipped jackets. Could they have made an error? No. The Description very plainly says Product packaging. It does not say the pattern itself, nor does it say anything made from the pattern. Say it isn't so, Simplicity.

How about the copyright for Simplicity costumes : no. 8192 for Misses Costume, Registration Number VA0001277919, date June 13, 2003? Certainly that one would be more informative? Wrong. Application title states Simplicity pattern no. 7524 envelope and the Description very plainly states Product packaging. It does not say the pattern itself, nor does it say anything made from the pattern.

Not one Simplicity copyright that we checked was for a pattern. Granted that Simplicity has copyrights on books that contain patterns but that does not mean ANY of the patterns themselves are actually covered by copyright; just the collection of patterns, which is a big difference. McCall's has very few copyrights as does Butterick. Vogue has a ton of books almost all of which date back to the 1950s and 1960s.

McCall's envelope for pattern #9582, for "Misses' and men's unisex pullover top and hat", has a "Copyright © 1998" statement on it. NO WHERE on the envelope is there any statement that the purchaser cannot make clothing items to sell from this pattern. And, no where on the McCall's web site is there any copyright statement about the use of their patterns. Not that it would be legally binding if it were on the envelope. However, should you contact McCall's, some pea-brained moron named Meg Carter, of McCall's Consumer Service, will respond will a long and factually corrupt copyright whine. Actually, she has more than one.

Patterns are not copyrightable. Read the 1995 letter from the Register of Copyrights explaining why clothing patterns are not copyrightable. Click here for a copy of this letter in PDF format. In fact, the issue of not being able to control what is made from a patter is so obvious the the Supreme Court commented on it in Baker v Skeldon, 101 US 99 (1879), flatly rejecting the notion that someone's copyright could control the "application of a mechanical operation" (cutting fabric).

As a reminder, clothing is considered to be a useful item and therefore cannot be copyrighted. See Galiano v Harrah's, 416 F.3d 411 (5th Cir 2005) and Whimsicality v Rubie's Costume Co, 891 F.2d 452 (2nd Cir 1989)

A pattern on clothing is copyrightable only so far as its intrinsic value to the clothing. See Galiano v Harrah's, 416 F.3d 411 (5th Cir 2005). A design for a hat with animal ears on it likewise fails to qualify for copyright protection. An image of Mickey Mouse on a t-shirt is not copyrightable because the image is not part of the t-shirt whereas an original design for a quilt would be copyrightable although the idea of a quilt is not. A clothing pattern might qualify for a copyright because the pattern as a whole, with instructions, would contain some amount of originality but only the instrucions would be protected. A pattern of an apron would not be copyrightable because it would have passed into public domain many years ago. A pattern of a plush animal could qualify as a soft sculpture and would be an exception depending upon the image of the animal.


Let us go over a few of Meg Carter's lies, or perhaps we should say misrepresentations?

"It is illegal to ... use our patterns to make items for subsequent resale." Meg, where doe the law say this? The US Supreme Court said otherwise many years ago in Baker v Skeldon. McCall's sells patterns for consumers to use as guides while making clothing items. Whether they are making the item, say an apron, for personal use, to give away or to sell, the item made is fundamentally the same. So why do you insist there is some distinction? The item being sold does not carry any identification on it that says McCall's so the purchaser cannot imply in any manner that McCall's was responsible for the apron, or whatever. This statement by you is a lie. Pure and simple.

"If you ... sell items from a licensed pattern you would not only be violating McCall's copyright, but would also be in violation of the licensed designer's copyright." Another lie. First, the copyright from the "licensed designer" would have to be assigned to McCall's in writing and the pattern envelope would have to state the original owner and that rights were assigned. The stuff about other designers is pure hogwash. Second, see above paragraph: PATTERNS ARE NOT COPYRIGHTABLE!

"A seamstress or dressmaker may use a McCall pattern to make a dress for a client and charge fees, however it has to be made for a specific client and a new McCall's pattern must be used each time" Again, Meg, pea-brained moron of McCall's Consumer Service, what law gives you the right to make this claim? None. Whether my Aunt Minnie or some seamstress buys the pattern, the conditions are the same. They can make what they want, when they want, as many as they want and sell what they want. And McCall's cannot do anything to stop them. Copyright only prevents people from making physical copies of the patterns and selling them or giving them away.

"All of McCall's patterns are intended for 'Home Use Only' " is perhaps an accurate statement of intention by McCall's but it is not legally binding upon anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

"Permission to use copyrights for home businesses is never granted and can not be obtained." Permission was granted when the pattern was sold. McCall's forfeited any right to control the use of the pattern after it was sold.

Meg Carter's lies are stated again in a different format in the second statement. So, you ask, why does McCall's and the rest make these false claims? Many people want to believe these claims, for whatever reason, so they are repeated. Many people actually believe the pattern companies do have the right to limit how their patterns are used. Imagine the Ford Motor Company making the statement that their F-150 was for non-commercial, home use only. Or Pillsbury saying that you could not use their flour to make cookies for the bake sale? Or Coca Cola saying the case of cans you purchased at the grocery store could not be sold as singles in your local store? You wouldn't believe them for a second.


Simplicity has its own version of Meg carter. She is named Sue Fleck. She is as big a moron as Meg. The eBay web site has a posting where someone quotes Sue Fleck about the copyrights belonging to Simplicity, another factually corrupt copyright whine.. And, on thebigtradeoff.blogspot, Sue Fleck repeats her lies. They are the same basic lies as those told by Meg Carter's. Pattern manufacturers are guilty of copyright misuse by lying about what copyrights actually cover.


For those who care,

Simplicity has a web site at www.simplicity.com. Simplicity gives no on-line contact information except OrderAssist@simplicity.com. Simplicity does have a blind comment form.

McCall's has web sites at www.mccall.com and www.mccallpattern.com/. McCall's can be contacted at consumerservice@mccallpattern.com.

Butterick has a web site at www.butterick.com/. Butterick can be contacted at consumerservices@butterick.com.

Other pattern companies that have pages in Tabberone's Trademark & Copyright Abusers' Hall Of Shame are Amy Butler, ePatterns, Loralie Designs, Paragon Patterns as well as a smattering of companies under Craft Sites.

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