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Pedal circuit patents

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by vernplum, Jul 11, 2008.

  1. vernplum

    vernplum Member

    Sep 11, 2007

    I noticed that there are many pedals that are 'evolving' circuit designs of old, e.g. Tube Screamer seems to be a popular one for people to use as a jumping off point for new designs. What's the legality of this? Are circuits protected in this way - if I want to build a pedal based on something like that is that infringing anyone's intellectual property?

  2. Grant Ferstat

    Grant Ferstat Some guy in obscure bands in a far away place... Silver Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    Perth, at the end of the Earth...
  3. IvIark

    IvIark Member

    Jan 9, 2008
    Unless the circuit is patented you're not doing anything wrong and I don't know of any effect pedal circuits that are patented - basically because, as you said, the vast majority are adapted versions of something that already exists. Just make sure you don't infringe trade marks such as the effects or manufacturers name.
  4. amz-fx

    amz-fx Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2005
    In my blog:

    50 Guitar FX Patents

    okay, they're not all effects, some are just audio related but still interesting...

    regards, Jack
  5. amp_surgeon

    amp_surgeon Member

    Apr 11, 2008
    Very cool! Thanks!

    I love looking at patents. They get the creative juices flowing. They can also get you a little steamed when you read a relatively recent patent that describes an idea you had years ago, but discarded for whatever reason.

    vernplum, most pedal circuits are not patented. All patents which were granted more than 20 years ago (14 years for design patents) are expired, and the inventions they covered are now public domain. In some circumstances a patent's coverage may be extended for a few additional years.

    On the other hand, trademarks last a lot longer, and can be renewed.

    For example, you can make as many exact clones of the Uni-Vibe as you like - the original circuit was designed in the 1960's. However, you CAN'T call it a "Uni-Vibe" because the name is now the trademarked property of Dunlop.

    If you want to build something for your own personal use then you can make anything you like, even if it's still covered by a patent. A patent only covers the commercial use of an invention.
  6. earthtonesaudio

    earthtonesaudio Member

    May 16, 2008
    Props to you for asking before setting up shop.
    Also, don't use PCB layouts without permission, as they are copyrighted artwork. The circuit itself can be patented, but not copyrighted or trademarked. The circuit board can be copyrighted but not trademarked or patented. And the name can be trademarked and maybe copyrighted, but not patented.
    ...As far as I know anyway.

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