This situation has come up on many crochet pages where we share our creations and ask for advise on selling items: Designer A has a crochet pattern for sale for a Disney owned character's likeness. Designer A admits that it is not licensed or approved by Disney. Crocheter B purchases the pattern with the intention to sell items made with this pattern. When Designer A is approached by the Disney Corporation to cease and desist selling the pattern can Disney also approach Crocheter B for purchasing this pattern?
Of course. Why would designer B think they can do that?
This answer is written to explain situations which may come up involving intellectual property law issues. It does not give specific legal advice about specific fact situations. If you have a specific fact situation in mind you should ask for professional legal advice about the relevant facts. Seemingly minor changes in facts may change a legal opinion dramatically. Space here does not permit an explanation of all the variables in complex legal areas. Dave Brezina is an Illinois lawyer and his profession is regulated under the authority of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Although he represents clients nationally and internationally, his law practice is performed in Illinois and is not subject to regulation by other states. Dave Brezina is also a Registered Patent Attorney and a patent practice is regulated by the US Patent and Trademark Office a Federal agency and is not subject to regulation by the states. The firm, Ladas & Parry, LLP, has attorneys admitted and offices in at least Illinois, New York and California. Finally, do not post confidential information. There is not an attorney client relationship created simply by correspondence or communication with the author of this site.
Buying a copyright-infringing crochet pattern is not unlawful under copyright law because it violates none of the copyright owner's exclusive copyright rights (reproduction, to make derivative works, distribution to the public, perform publicly, display publicly, import).
Buying a trademark-infringing crochet pattern is not unlawful under trademark law because the purchaser, at the time of purchase, is not inserting that pattern in the public marketplace and is not "trafficking" under the criminal trademark statute.
In short, it's unquestionably unlawful to sell or otherwise distribute a copyright or trademark infringing product but almost always lawful to buy one. There are exceptions.
The above response is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.
Crocheter B should not have any legal concerns so long as they are not engaging in any commercial activity regards to any infringing items. Merely buying it does not get us to infringement. But you note that B intends to sell items made from the infringing patterns and in such case B can be held accountable for infringement.
If you need clarification, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Legal, LLC on the basis of this posting.
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