I know that a post like this is likely to come across as judgmental. I want to begin by saying that the purpose of this post is not to condemn anyone for knowingly or unknowingly purchasing infringing diapers, nor to make myself seem superior. I simply want to raise awareness of this issue. The examples I pictured are just diapers that made me say “hmm.” Unfortunately I don’t know how to know for sure whether a diaper is infringing without asking the creator of the diaper possibly being infringed upon. — Editing to add that the reason I entitled this “intellectual property infringement” rather than “patent infringement” is that it goes beyond patented aspects and includes other intellectual property. In my post about cloth diaper co-ops, I briefly mentioned patent infringement as an issue, but this is not limited to co-op cloth diapers. In fact, any reputable retailer will be cautious about carrying diapers that may be infringing, lest they be held liable. I’m aware that this is still an issue for big retailers such as Amazon, and I don’t know what the answer is, other than to contact them to request removal of each diaper & each seller carrying them.
Getting a patent is a time consuming and costly venture. No matter how you feel about whether or not the company had the “right” to obtain the patent, they did. The USPTO approved it, and it is legally theirs. Reading a patent can be confusing, and most U.S. manufacturers who hold a patent are aware of that. This is why you will see them sometimes reaching out to work-at-home-moms (WAHMs) to point out the infringing aspects of their diapers & offer a licensing option (if available) or request that they make changes to their pattern. You will often see diapers that look very similar, but have a different pocket opening, snap configuration, closure type or material in order to comply with the patent of another brand.
Custom PUL is expensive, and a manufacturer who does this is careful about whom they hire to do it as well as the legal agreements involved, lest they see their PUL sold to other companies. In many cases, overseas factories are copying and printing popular U.S. prints and/or are printing unlicensed character PUL. This makes their diapers even more desirable to U.S. customers since they can’t get these prints elsewhere. Disney and other companies do sell licensed fabric to craft stores however, in order to use these materials on products you sell, you need to obtain permission (licensing) from the company. I can almost guarantee that the PUL printed overseas with popular characters is 100% unauthorized.
See above, looks like the Lovelace knockoff may have been successfully removed from Alva. However, there are still others out there.
You may wonder why I care about this. While it’s none of my business what you personally purchase, I care very much about the cloth diaper industry. I wouldn’t knowingly purchase a knockoff of any product, though I’m not interested in investigating patents before I purchase a toy either.
If we as consumers refuse to purchase these items, we’re sending the right message. As long as we continue to purchase them, companies will have to spend time and resources protecting their patents, which will eventually lead to increased prices for all of us.
Is buying a diaper from a reputable retailer the best way to ensure you don’t purchase an infringing diaper? What else can we as consumers do?