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tline3open  Curious about Gorham Use of Copyright and Patent Protection

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Author Topic:   Curious about Gorham Use of Copyright and Patent Protection
denimrs

Posts: 102
Registered: Dec 2005

iconnumber posted 11-12-2010 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for denimrs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After joining the Silver Forum I noticed in several posts about Gorham flatware that the company used both patent and copyright laws to protect their flatware designs. That caught my attention because until then I had not noticed the use of copyright marks on sterling flatware, and I wondered why they used both systems and whether other companies also did this.

Additionally, I noticed the copyright discussions seemed to be in posts about patterns designed by Antoine Heller. Since I had several dessert spoons in his patterns, I became curious about what might be on my silver. So I did a survey of the marks on all my sterling flatware. At the end of this very small survey of just my flatware, I can make two observations:

    1. Gorham may be the only company to have used the Copyright laws to protect (some of) their designs.

    2. And, they may have used Copyright laws for only designs by F. Antoine Heller.

Here is what I found in my silver drawer that lead me to these conclusions:

Gorham:
14 patterns by Gorham: 6 marked as being patented; and 3 marked as being copyrighted – all 3 being Heller patterns.

Of the 6 Heller patterns I own: Fontainbleau, his first pattern for Gorham, has neither a patent or copyright mark. Old Medici, Cluny and Versailles are the 3 with copyright marks. And, St. Cloud and Florentine are the two patented designs: St. Cloud, with patent D16688 granted to Walter Wilkinson in May 11, 1886 and Florentine,
with patent D34646 granted to Florentin A. Heller June 11, 1901.

It was interesting to me that the Carpenter Gorham book did not list Florentine as a Heller design, and also that Heller had left Gorham and returned to France when he made this application.

FYI and to break up the text, here are my 6 Gorham dessert spoons in Heller designs:

From right to left: Fontainebleau (introduced in 1882); Old Medici (copyrighted 1883); Cluny (copyrighted 1883); St. Cloud (patented 1886); Versailles (copyrighted 1888); Florentine (patented 1901)
Additionally, I have seen another Heller design, Coligni, listed for sale online and they show it also has a Copyright mark. I have not yet discovered whether the other Heller designs might have been copyrighted, but I don’t think any more were patented.

Other Gorham patterns I own which are marked as having been patented are Empress, Buttercup, Cambridge and Old French.

Other Makers – I also found patent marks on 9 patterns by other makers and none with a copyright mark:
Tiffany: 4 patterns (Italian, Lap Over Edge, Hampton, and Palmette)
Durgin: 1 pattern (Fairfax by Durgin, prior to being taken over by Gorham)
Shiebler: 1 pattern (American Beauty)
Whiting: 1 pattern (Empire)
Theo B. Starr: 1 pattern (Bird/Japanese pattern which I believe to have been made by Biederhase & Co. as they did receive a patent for this pattern (D 5876) May 28, 1872. My fork handle appears to match the Biederhase Bird pattern as shown in “Silver in America” by Charles Venable, p.138)
Unknown maker: 1 pattern (It is marked but I could not find a match in Rainwater’s book, so it remains unknown to me.)

After this admittedly limited review, I am fascinated that the only pieces marked “Copyright” were Gorham Heller patterns and it makes me wonder – is my survey accurate? Or, are there other patterns by Gorham and/or other companies that were copyrighted? If not, why did Gorham do this? Why copyright only his designs and only some of them?

Thanks for any and all suggestions that any of you can make to verify, invalidate, or explain my “observations”.

Elizabeth


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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 11-12-2010 10:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After a quick few minute review:

  • Vivaldi by Alvin has a © (circle "C")
  • La Fleurette by Unger Brothers has copyright 1904

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denimrs

Posts: 102
Registered: Dec 2005

iconnumber posted 11-12-2010 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denimrs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott,

Thanks for that. At least I now know that other companies did use the copyright process.

Elizabeth

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Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 11-23-2010 07:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unger Brothers also copyrighted both flatware and silver jewelry designs--1902 and 1904 are the dates I seem to recall..."He Loves Me" is the one i can find in my drawer with a copyright mark to 1904.

Tiffany also patented many of its designs, from "Japanese" in 1871 to "Broom Corn" in the late 1890s. Design patents are similar to copyright, but I'm not sure how the mechanism differs in function...

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denimrs

Posts: 102
Registered: Dec 2005

iconnumber posted 11-23-2010 09:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for denimrs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ulysses Dietz:
.....Tiffany also patented many of its designs, from "Japanese" in 1871 to "Broom Corn" in the late 1890s. Design patents are similar to copyright, but I'm not sure how the mechanism differs in function...

Mr. Dietz,
Yes, I am aware of the Tiffany design patents. Two of their flatware patents from the 20th century were for Hampton and Palmette, both designed by my great uncle Charles B. Blake. I have seen no evidence that they copyrighted any flatware pattern, but could be wrong.

It was the use of both copyright and patents by Gorham that got me puzzled, and the more limited use of copyrighting and the possibility that they only copyrighted some of Antoine Heller's designs, while patenting many more of their designs --- from my observations, at least.

From what I know about the two design protection systems, of the two, the patent process is more complicated and expensive, takes longer and lasts for a shorter time. Yet, it seems to have been the preferred system to protect flatware designs as it appears more patents were obtained than copyrights --- again, from my observations. However, I now know that Gorham was not the only company to use the copyright system as I had wondered and that is good information to have. Thanks for your participation and information.

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Ulysses Dietz
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Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 11-23-2010 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ah, so Copyright is quick? Yeah, what would the point of patenting be if it doesn't last as long. Copyrights are very powerful these days, even on objects.

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