Per use fees for patterns

On the Celtic Flame dressmakers board, the subject of a per use fee for patterns has come up again, and those taking it personally are misunderstanding…again!!

It is standard industry practice to pay a per use fee or a licensing fee to re-use commercial patterns. And this is how it should be! A pattern is the product of someone else’s design ideas and skills…they SHOULD be paid every time someone makes something using their pattern! (See “Why do patterns cost so much?” ) When you buy a pattern for personal use, it is yours to use for PERSONAL use. If you are making 10 first communion dresses for others, a pattern must be bought for every person…that is your license, your per use fee.

So, when we buy an ID dress pattern to make one dress, we have paid for that use. If I am going to make my daughter 6 dresses from the same pattern, I can do that. But if I want to make 6 dresses to sell, I must either buy 6 new patterns, or purchase a licensing agreement from the pattern maker. This is standard industry practice!

“Most pattern companies, including the small independent pattern companies, have strict policies that prohibit the use of their patterns for manufacturing. It is a direct violation of copyright laws to manufacture sewn products from a commercial pattern and claim it as your own design.

You can, however, sew custom garments for customers using a commercial pattern if you buy one pattern for each person. For instance, if you are making four of the same style of bridesmaid’s dresses for four different people, you need to purchase four separate patterns, one for each bridesmaid.” – Copyrights and the Sewing Industry: Part 1 By Susan Wigley

(More info here.)

All of this is so confusing that no home sewer really pays much attention to it and the pattern industry is not policing this issue, though it would have the right to do so. It does however police trade shows and craft fairs to catch folks using one pattern to create articles for sale.

Even though a per use fee is standard industry practice, Susan decided not to require this with her pattern. She understood that many of her customers would be using the pattern to make multiple dresses. Not wanting to deal with this, she decided to charge enough for the pattern that she is happy and comfortable with her customers using the pattern as much as they wish. She is not being taken advantage of. But that does not mean the pattern can be copied in any way and distributed to others. (We do, however, advise that if a dressmaker is making dresses for multiple schools, each school should buy a set of patterns so that they [the school] own them which makes it easier to have multiple dressmakers or to change dressmakers at a future date. This is not policy for us, but it highly recommended.)

Now, one of the other ID dress pattern makers takes exception to the fact that Susan openly and clearly states that there is no per use (commercial) charge. She thinks it sounds like Susan is accusing her of collecting these fees. So? If she is collecting fees, she should be and more power to her!!! If she’s not she is also going against industry practices which works to the benefit of the small ID dressmaker and more power to her again!!!!! So what’s the problem here?

And there is a larger issue here in this objection to Susan stating that she does not charge a per use fee : she is accused of under cutting someone else while in actuality her focus was not limited to ID dress patterns at all and her reasons for stating that she does not charge a per use fee is because of her experience in the pattern industry.

“When I developed this pattern my personal challenge was not to make the best ID dress pattern. I wanted to make the best garment pattern of any kind. I was looking at the entire home-sewing pattern industry, not a small niche segment. ” – Susan Gowin


Ann & Susan

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. picperfic
    Aug 05, 2007 @ 07:00:00

    there are so many issues to deal with when making for profit….your words are so sensible and make it all understandable. I think I’d rather knit a pair of socks or a dishcloth!

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