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Q: Copyright restrictions for the creation of "stock" 3D models ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Copyright restrictions for the creation of "stock" 3D models
Category: Computers > Graphics
Asked by: digini-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 19 Apr 2006 18:59 PDT
Expires: 19 May 2006 18:59 PDT
Question ID: 720792

I would like to make 3D models of common household items that I intend
to sell.  Now, if I make a model of a Campbells Soup can do I need to
remove the Campbells logo from the texture?

Also, how about if I model a Microsoft mouse.  In this case is the
physical shape of the object something I need to worry about?

In the photography world there is the concept of "Model Release" and
"Property Release".  I'm guessing that these concepts would probably
apply to 3D models as well but I'm not sure.

If anyone can find some information regarding this I'd be very grateful.

Subject: Re: Copyright restrictions for the creation of "stock" 3D models
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 24 Apr 2006 18:25 PDT

In general, you need to be very careful with all but the most generic
sorts of designs.  Anything that is clearly recognizable as a
*Microsoft* mouse or a *Campbells* can of soup is likely protected by
some sort of intellectual property rights.

Before going into detail, though, please note the disclaimer at the
bottom of the page.  Google Answers is not a substitute for
professional legal advice, so take everything here with the
appropriate grains of salt.

Your question asked about copyright, and a commenter, below, added a
caution about trademark protection as well.  Both of these things are
certainly important considerations.

Your real concern with physical objects is more likely to be patent
protection, however.

Although most of the focus on patents has to do with protecting new
inventions, there is a category of patents known as design patents
that protect (surprise!) object designs.

From the US Patent and Trademark Office website:


What is the difference between a utility patent and a design patent?

A utility patent may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any
new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, compositions
of matter, or any new useful improvement thereof. A design patent may
be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental
design for an article of manufacture...

In the absence of specific information to the contrary, you would do
well to assume that a characteristic ornamental design of an object is
covered by patent protection, and that you would need explicit
permission to duplicate it.

For instance, here is the design patent link for one (of many) design
patents held by Microsoft for a computer mouse:,651.PN.&OS=PN/D464,651&RS=PN/D464,651

United States Patent  D464,651 
Kerestegian  October 22, 2002  

Electronic mouse 

Claims -- The ornamental design for an electronic mouse, as shown and described. 

Inventors:  Kerestegian; Stiven (Seattle, WA)  
Assignee: Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, WA) 

Do you really want to go copying the mouse design and run the risk of
infringing on Microsoft's patents?

Along with design patents, products can also be protected to varying
degrees by both federal and state intellectual property laws covering
copyright and trademark, and also by more general laws involving fair
trade practices.

So...I'm afraid you'll either have to make your objects very generic
in appearance, or seek out specific licenses from the companies who
designed the products in question.

I hope that covers the territory adequately for your needs.  

But if there's anything else I can do for you, just let me know by
posting a Request for Clarification.

Best of luck in your ventures,


search strategy -- Searched the USPTO website for [ microsoft computer mouse ]
Subject: Re: Copyright restrictions for the creation of "stock" 3D models
From: schacman-ga on 19 Apr 2006 19:46 PDT
Copyright is not your problem here.  Copyright protects literary,
dramatic, artistic and musical works.

From your question, it appears as though you would need to be careful
with trademark issues.  I am familiar with Canadian trademark law and
not American law, however the basic principles should apply.

Your question is definitely interesting and definitely not a
traditional issue in trademark law.  First thing that you should know
is that the brand name of a product is generally protected. 
Furthermore, if it is distinctive, even the shape of the product may
be protected by trademark (pez dispenser?).

IMHO, there would definitely be a problem if you were to advertise
your services  by showing pictures of your 3D models containing
trademarked material.  I don't however see a problem with simply
selling 3D models that contain brand names.

Your best bet here would be to consult a trademark or IP lawyer in your area.

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