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Their plan is to make the tees and paint them in different designs. Then they are going to package them and sell online and in the neighborhood. Is this ok to do? I know there are several patents for golf tees and I don't wish for them to get into any trouble. Any advice?

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Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated. Even if just another direction to look into for advice. Thanks –  bbuddaboy Apr 2 at 2:11

2 Answers 2

I would guess that since golf tees have been around for scores of years, that there aren't any patents on them, but in any case, you might not want to copy the look-and-feel of a tee, as it might be a problem on copyright grounds, but that's off-topic for this site.

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Thanks for the answer and that's kind of what I figure too, but want to be sure. There are over 30 patents on golf tees in general that I can find. Any advice on where I could find more info on it? –  bbuddaboy Apr 1 at 15:40
    
How old are these patents? If you find patents that have expired, then you can copy them and not have to worry about patent infringement. –  McKay Apr 1 at 16:23
    
The look of a tee can also be covered in a design patent as well as copyright and trademark, trade dress. It is very hard to imagine that the shape of a generic tee is protected at this point or that –  George White Apr 30 at 16:56

99.99% sure you have nothing to worry about, go ahead. If you are making basic tees I would not worry about anything. Once something has been in public use for a period of time it is in the public domain, no one can patent it and, even if they once did, any patent on it expired long ago, meaning you have the right to make it too. I just found an 'improvement' on a golf tee dated 1899, (George Franklin Grant 'an improved golf tee' Patent No. 638,920), meaning the basic golf tee itself was around probably long before that and has been in the public domain for over 100 years. You have an absolute right to use technology that is in the public domain (unpatented or in an expired patent), in fact creating technology that anyone can eventually use is the whole purpose of the patent system. Caveat: it is possible there are unexpired patents on golf tees, but given the technology they must be pretty exotic, like a titanium tee or something electronic, and they can only have a patent on that specific improvement. So that is possible and you can't do those but if we are talking about regular tees you are fine. And practically-speaking, even if you did infringe one of these patents probably the worst you'd get is a letter telling you to stop it, no one is going to bother going after nickels and dimes with a $500/hr. lawyer. With respect to designs painted on the tees, probably nothing to worry about either. Unless you use copyrighted material (like Bart Simpson or Mickey Mouse) or someone's trademark you are perfectly free to do so.

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