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Re: Maril -> patents (long)

Thanks for bringing this up Peter - I'm always fascinated with the ways that
ideas are developed and the idea that several different people might end up
solving a problem the same way or make the same discoveries, each on their

Being out in a rural area where I'm usually working on my own, and having a
brain that works similar to a little hampster wheel in perpetual, if
sometimes erratic, motion, I'm always trying out weird things and having to
solve problems with what's at hand. It can be a bummer to think that I've
come up with truly innovative techniques (fabric paint for making
watermarks!) only to find that other people have already done the same
thing. BUT, it's also very exciting to make discoveries and satisfying to
have gone through the process on my own. (I'm sure that's what contributes
to my lack of patience with adult students who want everything handed over
to them instead of figuring out some things for themselves...)

I can see where claiming ownership to a structure or technique would up a
person's reputation and afford more opportunities in terms of teaching,
etc., but what gets tiring is hearing over and over, "Oh, (snear) he ripped
that off from so and so...", as if two (or ten, or a hundred) people
couldn't possible come up with the same or similar idea, combination,
question, approach, etc.

On the other hand, do artists have a responsibility to know what is
happening and has happened in their field so that they aren't re-hashing
already tried ideas? Between good books and the web, people who are isolated
from collections and exhibitions can at least get a feel for the history of
artist's books and what's going on out there now. Or, does it matter? If
you're compelled to make work of any kind, should you be required to get
'permission' so you don't step on any toes?

And how much credit should be given to the 'originators' of different
structures? I've always been taught that it's good form to credit Gary Frost
when using his sewn board binding and Hedi Kyle when working with 'flag'

I'm very interested in everyone's thoughts on this.

Here's one discovery I'm happy to share - I'm sure I'm not the only person
to cook this up, but if you could always and forever refer to it as the
Lavadour Technique, I'd appreciate it. (just kidding...)

Take an old manual visa imprinter (you can usually find them on ebay for a
buck or two by searching 'addressograph') and remove the plate that has the
raised numbers and merchant information. By looking at the rollers
underneath and experimenting a little, you can plot out your printing area
and mark it on the 'bed' with a pencil.

Create your text with a hand-held label maker - the old kind with the raised
letters. (I showed this to some third graders last year and not one of them
had ever seen a manual visa machine or the label maker - scary) Peel the
back off the labels and attach them to the 'bed' of the press.

Go to the bank and ask for a couple packages of visa drafts. They will
usually give them to you - a couple hundred in a pack - as not many
merchants use the old style forms anymore.

Cut Japanese or similarly thin paper to the size of the visa drafts. These
drafts are usually a sandwich of carbon backed paper with a cardstock copy
on the bottom. Remove the bottom copy and replace it with the Japanese

Place the draft and paper in the printer and move the top handle back and
forth over the top, as you would to imprint a visa card.

You can get a few copies out of each carbon before you need to change it. A
fun way to add text to multiples, and I'm pretty sure the carbon is pretty

I haven't taken more time to play around with this, but I'm sure you could
make 'plates' out of tons of stuff for images and textures - lace doilies,
copper tooling foil with a stylus drawn over the back - anything you can
take a rubbing off of that will be 'type high' for this little imprinter.

True, you are stuck with a miniature format, but what the heck.

Best wishes,

Pendleton, Oregon

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Verheyen <verheyen@PHILOBIBLON.COM>
Date: Tuesday, March 06, 2001 8:13 AM
Subject: Re: Maril -> patents...

>To quote from the Designer Bookbinders Newsletter, Autumn 2000, reporting
>on Philip Smith's lecture. Excerpted from Dominic Riley's article.
>"Perhaps more controversial than his approach to spirituality though is his
>habit, over the years, of taking out patents on techniques that he has
>either devised or revived. When asked aobut his motivation of patenting
>"maril," for example, he replied that as the inventor of the technique, he
>should have the "first bite of the cherry." It was suggested that if others
>had been able to use it we have have seen the technique adapt or improve,
>and examples where cited where other binders who were playing with the idea
>at around the same time had to change it sufficiently so as not to incur
>the wrath of the patent holder.
>Another distinguished binder in the audience reflected on her own
>experience of having made a lap-back binding years ago as a solution to a
>problem, and wondered how this might have been compromised if it had been
>done after Philip had taken out his patent. These questions, although
>briefly debated among the audience, were not resolved, and it seems that a
>further discussion of patenting withing the hand crafts would be
>It is something which would be interesting to debate. What is the law on
>patents. One can certainly experiment with the technique on one's own,
>profiting from that would be iffy. What about exhibiting?...
>During my stint at Gaylord I was confronted with a patent held by LBS in
>Iowa on a sew in pamphlet binder. The only thing that distinguished from
>any other patent binder structurally was the fact that the inner cloth
>hinge had a self-adhesive applied so that after it was sewn, all the
>"binder" had to do was peel off the release paper and put it down...
>Gaylord had come up with something similar that they had to withdraw. In
>terms of materials it used their patented coated barrier board. You can see
>the patent at <http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US04741655__>. The US
>Patent Office has it with images at:
>While truely original ideas should be protected, and maril fits, I have a
>real problem with patents on long established techniques and structures.
>Some are also just plain silly. Remember, everything we do is derived from
>something though, somewhere...
>Philobiblon: Book Arts, Different By Design
>Hand Binding, Conservation, and Project Websites
>Peter D. Verheyen
><Fax: 612.632.3718>
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