Originally Posted by Hit_the_Rhod
In that they are both made to conform to the RV windshield and are held in place with magnets, yes, they are similar. However, even if they were an identical copy, the OP is not offering them for resale, so patents don't come into play at all.
Originally Posted by dan-nickie
Can you tell me where you came up with this? I'm not saying you're wrong but everything I found on Google said the opposite.
Dan, First, I am not an attorney, but I will attempt to paraphrase what our attorney had researched and explained to us.
My wife and I do Metal Art Work, to include Sculptures, as well as furniture, etc. (check our our Avatar). Most of what I am relating is what was explained to us as it relates to our work.
Some of the processes we do are proprietary, and may be protected by either patent, or copyright, or both. Many people do not know the difference between the two. A Patent can be used to protect a specific manufacturing process, or a specific design. Obtaining a patent allows you to prevent others from "damaging" you by making money from people who otherwise may purchase from you. If someone makes something that appears initially to be the same product, first you need to prove that it infringes on your patent, then you need to prove that it financially damages you, ie; the have made money on it before you can go after them for compensation. The most commonly used remedy is to send a "Cease and Desist" letter to the alleged violator, request and requiring them to stop making the item or using the process that you deem they are violating. Certain ideas or designs are deemed to be in the "public domain". For instance, we create and build Butterfly Chairs. They are generally patterned after . . .well, Butterflies! They are chairs which are generally suited (I hope) to the human frame, being comfortable to sit it. Patenting some as generic as a "Butterfly Chair" and trying to enforce that no one else can build a chair that has attributes that look like a Butterfly, is, well pretty silly.
That being said, there may be a specific process that is used in the creation of someone's Chair, that looks like a Butterfly that may be "Patent-able" For instance, we might build a chair that has a specific design hinge that allows the wings to fold up, allowing the finished product to be shipped in a smaller container. That concept may be worthy of a patent, and MAY pass the test of the US Patent Office, allowing you to advertise your Butterfly Chair as "Patent Pending", and then once the Patent is approved, you can advertise it as "Patent # XYZ****", or "Protected under Patent # **** (not sure the exact verbiage here). The perception is that the entire "Butterfly Chair" is Patented, and cannot be duplicated in any form, but that just isn't true.
Now to the matter at hand.
There are a plethora of products out there that are advertised and sold to fit over RV windows. Some claim to reduce heat inside the coach. Some claim to promote privacy. For all I know some may claim to make food prepared inside the coach taste better! Whatever.
Along comes MagnaShade. They make a great product (we have one), and on their website they have the comment "Pat. Pend. Original Design". So SOMETHING in their Original Design has some process or design for which a patent has been applied for. What is it? Is it a design or a process? I have no idea.
Someone else comes along, and says "I want to make a shade for the front of my RV to help block the sun. I'd like to be able to see through it, and be able to attach and remove it easily. I think I'll sew it together and use magnets to install it." Does it violate Magnashades "Patent" (that is pending)? I have no idea. Are they selling them for a profit? No.
So first you have to research and discover what the patent that is pending is actually for. (I'll let YOU do that). It could be for the use of a specific type of thread, or for a specific design of the "pockets" that hold the magnets. I have no idea. I'd bet a lot of money that it doesn't protect the overall concept of a shade that reduces the light in a motor home.
So let's assume that whatever patent has been applied for is being "violated", either intentionally, or unintentionally. Now you have to prove that you have been damaged. They didn't sell them, they didn't profit from them, therefore no damages. IF the specific patent is being violated, I suppose you could send them a Cease and Desist letter if you wanted to waste the time.
Long story short (too late!) while someone may argue that a patent has technically been violated, if no profit was made, there is no case.
Case in point, we made some really cool metal spiral ornaments with the University of Kentucky logo "UK" which is copyrighted by the UK Athletics Department in the middle.
Painted them Blue and White, and our daughter, who was getting her Masters at UK gave them to her professors as thank you gifts. Perfectly legal, as we didn't profit from them. Some of the professors asked if they could purchase more. No, unfortunately, they can't as NOW we would be profiting from their manufacture and sale.
Have we ever used copyrighted designs in our work? Yes, we have, including UK logo, and the UK College of Education Logo, WITH permission in the form of a written "License" to utilize their designs, for a specific purpose, for a specific number of copies. In this case, it was Benches with both of the above logos on them.
Hope this helped.