Knitters often ask me if they can sell finished objects made from my patterns. I wish there was an easy answer to this question. I have actually consulted an international Intellectual Property lawyer and she even told me that there is no easy answer, in fact she said it would make a good exam question!
I’m going to set out my own policies here, but I want to make it clear that I am NOT offering legal advice.
Do you really think it’s worth it?
Go and take a look at the Natty Knits Etsy shop where I sell my patterns and some finished creations I’ve knitted in the process of designing. Take a look at what I’ve sold in the last month. There are not many knitted toys in that sold list. On average I sell one knitted toy per month. I have an established Etsy business and I was the designer, yet I’m not selling knitted owls by the truckload.
Even if I was selling owls by the truckload, it would be a desperate way to run a business, each owl takes around 3 hours to knit and finish. $10 for 3 hours work is way below the minimum wage. I would not accept a huge custom order for 200 knitted owls. Imagine the RSI!
Know the difference between the object and the pattern
The Natty Knits patterns are protected under copyright law. You have no rights to reproduce and sell those patterns, nor to modify them and sell them. You also can’t say that my designs are your own.
What does the law say?
Anecdotally, in the UK it is illegal to sell finished items made with another person’s pattern. In the US it is legal. I can’t give you a definitive answer and a lawyer would charge us way more than the cost of a few owls to establish the legal guidelines for each individual case.
And the difficulty doesn’t stop there. I obviously have no control over the owls you will knit, so I have no idea whether my company would like to endorse them. I mean what if you’re a terrible knitter? (sorry).
The Natty Knits Policy
Please feel free to make and sell toys from my patterns, just don’t sell them on Etsy. That way, the Etsy trolls won’t flag your items as illegal, we won’t get into a competition and it won’t get unpleasant.
Also, Natty Knits will not endorse any other knitters or issue any “Cottage Licenses”. Although, you must credit the pattern design to Natty Knits and if someone asks you, please tell them where the pattern came from.
One final thought
I love it when people knit up my creations, when knitters tell me that they’ve made Hug Monsters for charity or when people make modifications of my patterns and show them off on Ravelry. I also love having a small business which is the product of my imagination. My goal is to help people to express themselves without damaging my business.