I have a bunch of old wood scraps from a pipe organ or piano.I'm creating a sculpture piece with the scrap wood as well as with other pieces of wood. But I am concerned that the individual pieces of wood that have some shapes to them may have a patent attached to them I don't even know where they actually came from. I'm wondering if this would be a patent violation. If I were to use this only as a prototype and then recreate it, then I guess it would not be a patent violation since they're just basically geometric shapes. I don't want to be an ethical either.

2 Answers 2


Yes you can use the wood. When a patented item is legitimately sold the patent rights are exhausted. It can be resold, destroyed, repurposed etc.

Separately, a utility patent is for functional aspects. You aren’t making anything functional. The US also has design patents for the ornamental aspects of a manufactured item. As an example, the shape of a vase. If you use pieces of an organ that happened to be protected by a design patent they would not be protected if not part of an organ.


In addition to George Whites answer, if it were indeed an old pipe organ, any patents would have likely expired. Patents generally expire 20 years from the filing date. The only area you might want to be careful about is if your sculpture features the organ or piano's logo. There could conceivably be some sort of trademark issue. I would guess it would be fair use anyway in the way that Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup paintings are, but I'm not a lawyer. If you have questions about trademarks, you should post them on the Law SE site.

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