Say I like building things and I see an interesting product on the internet. Having seen this, and having the means to build something similar, the interest in the product, and the ability to understand how it works, is there anything wrong with borrowing public information about an object to use in building it myself? I would not attempt to share this object I built, for monetary purposes or otherwise. I would not claim ownership of the object. I would not assist others in building one themselves, aside from maybe showing them the publicly available information I started from as well. Is it legal to create this product and use it personally?

  • What does "borrowing information" mean? And there is a distinction between available to view and available for use; a patent specification may be one without the other. Nov 15, 2017 at 18:20
  • I mean, the patent registration might contain an overview of how the product works or a nondescriptive blueprint for identification purposes (I think, I don't know much about patents, hence the question). I guess the main crux of my question is: Can I use public information about the product to recreate it for personal use?
    – kirkpatt
    Nov 15, 2017 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


The title of your question suggests that a patent is involved, but it isn't clear from the rest of your question if that is really the case. Simply seeing a product on the internet does not mean that there are any patent rights attached to it.

If a patent does exist, then that patent's protection is defined by its claims. In the US, if you make or use an object that includes all the elements of the claims of a granted patent, then you are infringing that patent. It does not matter whether you share the object or attempt to make money from it—simply making or using it is enough to qualify as infringement.

That said, based on your intended use, the patent owner is highly unlikely to ever find out about your infringement. Further, even if they did, enforcing patent rights in court is incredibly expensive (typically involving multi-million dollar legal budgets), and they wouldn't stand to recover much from you, so it is even less likely that they would sue you for the infringement.

  • 4
    Of course, if you're using it solely for personal and non-commercial use and aren't giving out such items to others/selling them it's quite likely the patent holders aren't going to find out or care.
    – JAB
    Nov 15, 2017 at 20:18
  • @JAB Foolish of me not to mention that—I'll add it to the answer. Nov 16, 2017 at 1:28
  • Thanks. I had figured it wouldn't matter too much if nobody knows about it, but it's a pretty neat thing and I was hoping I could reap some internet fame for it, if it would work. I might as well not test my luck, even if it wouldn't be worth going after me.
    – kirkpatt
    Nov 17, 2017 at 22:26
  • Maybe check that the patent has been granted and what you've seen isn't simply just publication of the patent application (type B vs A respectively)
    – Beerhunter
    Mar 15, 2018 at 18:46
  • That seems to be against the intention of patent law. The idea is that others can take a patented idea and improve on it. An obvious way is to take patent A, implement it, and see if there are ways to improve on it. I assume that if it is a company doing this, building something to improve it is not commercial use because it isn't actually used.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 29, 2020 at 15:39

rhymes_with_dorange answered that use is covered. This may not be universally true; I checked the Dutch law and it specifically bans commercial use. Personal use appears to be exempt.

Edit: User "A. Coder K." confirms this is the same in German patent law (Patentgesetz §11) explicitly which states that a patent does not cover private, non-commercial use.

  • Good point—I've edited my answer to reflect that I was speaking to US law. May 15, 2020 at 17:55

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