In reference to the patent: US20170056751

If I design a hair cover that is made to attach to protective headgear am I in violation of this patent? The product would solely be a hair cover, with cutouts/holes/straps that would allow 3rd party headgear to attach to it.

US20170056751 is a patent application, not a patent. It may or may not get granted as a patent. Even if a patent is granted, the claims are very likely to change from what is in the application. That said, in order to infringe on a patent, you need to implement every element of at least one claim. Reading claims isn't straightforward. Short simple claims are likely the hardest to avoid and long complicated claims are usually the easiest to circumvent. Looking at this application, there is only one independent claim. If you can avoid implementing every aspect of this claim, you should avoid infringement.

  1. Protective headgear for wrestling and other activities, comprising:

    a cap having an outer surface configured to cover the head of a wearer while leaving the face exposed;

    a jaw strap for holding the cap in position while worn;

    the cap including internally accessible side pockets associated with the ears of a wearer;

    a pair of right and left ear guard inserts, each configured to be removably received by a respective one of the side pockets; and

    wherein each ear protection insert is retained within its respective side pocket when the cap is worn and held in position with the jaw strap.

If your product avoids using even one of the specified steps in this claim you should be okay with regards to this application. A couple of caveats. First, the claims of this application are very likely to change before a patent is issued. Second there is every possibility of other patents that are relevant. A good first step in looking for other patents would be to look at the cited prior art of this application. A good way to keep track of the progress of this application is the US Public Pair site. Go their, get past the CAPTCHA, select "document number" and enter "20170056751". I checked and the examiner has issued a non-final rejection. This is pretty typical even for applications that eventually get granted. The inventor's attorney had filed a response. You can see this process by clicking on the "Transaction History" tab. The "Image File Wrapper" tab contains the actual documents being communicated.

To summarize, I would guess that if your product was simply a hair cover and didn't include either a jaw strap, side pockets for ear guards or ear guards then you should be fine with respect to this application. That said, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advise. There is also the potential for other relevant patents.

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