Coasters and Canvas

So I had a local small business approach me to see if I could do their logo on some slate coasters. I of course said yes, and since they already had the files, it was a breeze to get this done. They actually want more, but I had to wait on supplies to arrive and get prepped before I could do them.

I also did a bit of an experiment with a super cheap hardboard canvas. This is going to be a father’s day gift for my stepfather. He’s huge into fishing so I found a, sadly small file size, picture of an old fishing reel patent from the early 1900s. I think it came out really dang nice actually. Wish it was a bit darker, so if anyone knows anything I can put on it now that it’s already been engraved, let me know. I was thinking some spray on clear coat or spray lacquer. Maybe even cover it with some mod podge to see if it will just make it a tad darker. If not, I may consider just engraving it again. At any rate, let me know what you all think!


Did you ever do the invisible writing thing with lemon juice, as a kid? You write your message, let it dry, and then heat it up, and the paper turns brown where the lemon juice was. I’m kinda wondering if you lightly daubed lemon juice over the engraving, and wiped it off quickly, if it would soak into the engraved parts more than the non-engraved parts, and then darken with a hot air blast.

Or it might totally destroy it. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Hey, it’s worth a shot! If it doesn’t work, like I said, I’m not out much. I got the canvas at Dollar Tree!

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Like the fishing reel … Hope you can get it darker without re-doing. Will probably need to re-do it and then spray with something before you remove the masking.

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Not quite sure how “small” of a file you found, but attached is the full photo from the actual patent. I use them quite often and import them into Illustrator and convert them to line art vectors if I want something larger than the original file.


Wow! That’s much nicer than what I used. Where do you find your patent images if you don’t mind?

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If you know the patent numbers or the inventor/designer/actual holding company, you can use Google’s Patent search engine. Most of what I have done I’ve known who applied for the patent by name or had the actual patent number.

For yours I cheated and used the patent number (seen in the top center 847,890) and just searched it. Many times you’ll have to sort through pages of jibberish before you find the image you’re looking for.

Also keep in mind that a lot of OLD patents are hand drawn images, and photocopied over and over again, so there will be plenty of noise some images if you plan on just slapping it straight into a file. I always try to clean them up.

Patents are also gray area in my mind kind of like well known artwork, logos, etc. I would never sell what I do with them but there are plenty of people out there that would. So use this at your own risk if you plan to do anything beyond personal.


I’m a big fan of NOT selling anything copyrighted, but I know of lot of people don’t care… Anything like this is most likely either a proof of concept for display or for a gift :slight_smile: But thank you very much on the tips for finding the images, that’s awesome

Per the USPTO website, “ Patents are published as part of the terms of granting the patent to the inventor. Subject to limited exceptions reflected in 37 CFR 1.71(d) & (e) and 1.84(s) , the text and drawings of a patent are typically not subject to copyright restrictions . The inventors’ right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States for a limited time is not compromised by the publication of the description of the invention. In other words, the fact that a patent’s description may have been published without copyright restrictions does not give you permission to manufacture or use the invention without permission from the inventor during the active life of the patent.”


My understanding is patents are only copyrighted if it’s specifically listed on the text and/or images. Without the notice, the patent images are in the public domain. On top of that, copyright images published before 1924 would have reverted into the public domain anyway. (Assuming the Feds didn’t file an extension with themselves. :stuck_out_tongue: ) But either way, patent images without a copyright notice are fair game I think.


That is also true. So if you want to copyright something, add the copyright symbol and date to. It immediately. Then get it registered at the copyright office

Well normally you don’t have to because copyright is in effect as soon as you create something, but patent stuff is an exception.


Except you cannot enforce the copyright or claim damages until it is on there. Or so I learned when I was taking my legal assistant courses at Georgetown University…

Well that sucks, I thought you could sue for actual damages if a work isn’t registered and registration allows you to sue for statutory damages, are you saying that you can’t sue at all unless a work is registered. If that’s the case, I wish the copyright folks wouldn’t tell everyone the copyright is in place the moment your work is actualized. :-/ Because what’s the point of that if it isn’t enforceable?


That’s correct but it’s only a technicality. You have the copyright from creation “in tangible form”. But you can’t bring suit until it’s registered. So if you find someone has copied it and a standard cease & desist doesn’t work, you just file the registration and then you can sue. Your suit is limited to actual damages.

You are right about violations of a registered copyright having statutory damages apply, but it’s not only got to be registered but also noted (as in an embedded copyright statement) so the miscreant knows that the copyright holder is not waiving rights under the statute - thus you get statutory damages because it was malice aforethought. With it being non-noted and non-registered the user might assume you’re allowing copying and until you serve notice (the cease & desist) and register, they don’t know anything to the contrary. Then you sue for an actual damages from their copying. The burden of proof is harder for the latter case than if it’s registered and noted before release into the world.

As I remember, until it is on the work or registered, you can’t enforce it. It has been many years, but that was my favorite part of the courses (intellectual property) and I also worked in an IP law firm for a short time. I could be wrong and have been, but I am relatively sure. If someone doesn’t know it’s copyrighted, how can they apply for licenses, or even know they are infringing. Makes sense to me.

That said, I am not a lawyer and not offering legal advice.

You are right. But the copying does not have to come after the registration - if you find someone copying and they refuse to rectify it, the post-copying registration is all that’s needed to file suit.

As to your other point, “how would they know” is why they require the registration & notice before suit can be filed. I think that gives people more leeway than they deserve though. If you didn’t create it, then you can’t just copy it - it’s not yours whether there’s a notice or label or registration or anything else. Everything is copyright by default so any use of anything you didn’t create is likely to violate - my personal opinion is that the presumption should be that you’re violating someone’s copyright if there isn’t an explicit permission to use attached to the work. Since most things are not given away for others to copy & modify (and create derivative works) and only some things are released with any explicit copy permissions, it would stand to reason the default legal status should be in favor of you can’t do it unless you’re told you can. The current presumption that you need it to be registered & noticed before someone could know they’re violating your copyright is backwards.

In general, I completely agree. But there are cases where the infringer didn’t know of the original work. Or perhaps thought there variations were sufficiently different, ( not talking about Vanilla Ice et al). I remember one case I worked on where the work was reallly old, but the estate or company was looking to sue over a likeness to their owned artwork. Several of us spent HOURS AND HOURS at the library of Congress researching it. But most infringers do it intentionally.