RE: homemade inkjet printer head

From: Jonathan Handel (
Date: Sat Jun 08 2002 - 23:46:37 EEST

You haven't violated their rights, because they've impliedly licensed you
to do what you do for them. And you probably haven't gained any rights in
their design beyond the rights to use it on this one occasion to produce
the part - but remember that the client relying on the law in an untested
area. This always introduces at least some uncertainty.

In any case, if building the part means that you create an STL file from
the CAD file, the STL file is a derivative work based on the CAD
file. Absent a contract, the rights in the STL file are frozen (if the STL
file is protectible by copyright at all): you have no right to use it
(after completion of the job), because the client owns the copyright and
perhaps other rights in the underlying work. But the client also has no
right to use the STL file, because you own the copyright in the STL
file. This may not be the result the client intends, but it's good for
you, since it forces the client to come back to you, rather than another
shop, if they want more copies of the part.

If I were representing the client, I'd want an agreement, in order to be
very sure that the vendor acquires no rights in my design, and also in
order to acquire rights in the STL file (and I'd want the STL file to be a
deliverable). From the client perspective, there are other reasons for an
agreement as well, such as confidentiality. From the vendor perspective,
there are also good reasons for an agreement, such as limitation of liability.

The photcopying scenario is different, because Kinko's doesn't create a
derivative work as part of the process of copying, assuming they use an
analog copier. Even if they use a digital copier, which they probably do
these days, the digital data is probably not stored in the machine once the
job is complete, so the question is pretty moot. Also, I'd wonder whether
a scan file is considered a derivative work or just a copy, a question I
haven't explored. In addition, the dollar amounts involved are generally
pretty low. If I were to outsource some large corporate job to Kinko's,
involving storage and repeated reproduction of a document, I might indeed
want a written agreement.

I have to add the obvious caveat: the above discussion is for
informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice, and slight
variations in actual facts can result in significant differences in the
legal analysis.

At 09:40 PM 06/07/2002, Bathsheba Grossman wrote:
>But is there much ambiguity in the situation where a client sends me
>(in my service bureau hat) a CAD design, and I build it for them? I
>think we'd all be surprised to learn that I had gained any rights to
>their design by this transaction, even if there is no contract. Or,
>conversely, that I had violated their rights to the design by doing
>the job.
>I've assumed this was clear-cut, but perhaps it isn't. Do I need a
>contract when I go to Kinko's and have a guy make some xeroxes for me?
>Bathsheba Grossman (831) 429-8224
>Creative prototyping
>For more information about the rp-ml, see

Jonathan Handel, Esq.
PO Box 691781
Los Angeles, CA 90069
tel & cell 323-650-0060
fax 323-654-5360
email (

Notice to Recipient: Nothing in this email establishes an attorney-client
relationship nor constitutes legal advice.

For more information about the rp-ml, see

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Tue Jan 21 2003 - 20:13:52 EET