October 23, 2007

Warning - Taggies Blankets have a patent

You probably have seen them. These blankets are made of two squares of fabric with ribbon loops sandwiched around the edge. I have seen them sold on Ebay, online web sites and demonstrated in blogs and mommy discussion groups. Some well intentioned new designer could find themselves in a heap of trouble if they attempt to sell a similar product.

This is the kind of patent I dislike. The product is so simple. There is nothing unique to the concept other than the brand name. It is easy to copy and reproduce. It would be easy to unintentionally copy the concept. Just attach a ribbon loop to a product, and oops - patent infringement. (This particular patent extends to related products and not just the blankets, and would, of course, have to be tested in a court of law).

This is how the designer intends to treat potential customers and fellow designers. The designer states:
In our appreciation of your notification of any product infringements that you may find, a donation of TAGGIES will be made to a charity. In addition, your first name and state of origin only will appear on our Random Acts of Kindness page as sincere recognition of your efforts.
I think there are better ways to protect your product. Try superior product quality, customer service, shopping experience. Sure, others will copy and imitate, but you can do better in all of those areas. Build loyalty on trust - not threatened action.

Patent protection is only as valuable as the intended enforcement of the patent owner. This designer is actively protecting her patent and products. (They claim copyright protection too, although that claim is rather dubious IMO). Anyway, just a warning to any other designers - stay away from the "Taggies" concept.

[This blog entry has been edited to remove some of my stronger opinions on this subject. If you would like to share your opinion, please leave it in comments.]

51 comments:

  1. I agree with you. That is so general and could easily be used by anyone without knowing. I removed a blanket I had on my Etsy shop after reading this because it had a couple of ribbon loops on it. Thanks for giving such good information on your blog.

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  2. I think that there are lots of people who know full-well that they are copying the original Taggies blanket. Those are the people that I feel distaste for.

    My feeling is that these people should come up with their own idea instead of riding the backs of others.

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    Replies
    1. perhaps if they didn't charge so much for such a cheap little thing they wouldn't get copied i made my son one because i couldn't afford an original one! and anyway how can they patent something that has been made by mums for donkeys years my grandparents remember these sorts of things and they were not patented then

      Delete
    2. Couldn't agree more with this logic. In fact there are even more lazy crafters who make and sell bibs as well. Don't be fooled, those charlatans did not invent bibs, yet peddle their wares as those rights shouldn't belong to one individual. I these people are the scum of the earth! /s

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    3. Anonymous11:15 PM

      My nanna made me a taggie when I was a baby but it was called my ticket blanket' and it too 2 year to make as I would only have good tickets on ie tags off bedding if they didn't rub together properly I said it was "no dud"
      I wouldn't sleep with out it
      And still 20 years later I still rub silky fabric together'
      My nephew has a taggie (fisher price) and it's rubbish the ribbon isn't smooth enough to rub together.
      Companies & people are making money of something that a parent can make to suit there baby.
      Parenting was so much better 20 years ago.

      Delete
  3. Anonymous9:30 PM

    Thank You for this information. I did not know that putting a ribbon on the edge of a blanket or fabric would be an infringement on this patent. I am new to crafting and had intended to make a few pillows with ribbons on the edges. Wow! I had admired the "Taggies" brand. I really dislike this patent. Sewing appliques to fabric is not a new technique. Additionally, the language used in their statement and having their valued customers to police the market I think is a bit much. While I will keep my ribbons, etc. off of the edges of my products, my viewpoint has changed about this company. I will not support any of their products.

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  4. Anonymous7:54 AM

    so because someone worked hard to get a patent on the idea and others are trying to profit off it the Taggies Company should be ok with it? I think if you worked and found something that was a huge success you'd protect your profit too.

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  5. Anonymous12:42 PM

    The Taggie people didn't invent the concept... Fisher Price had a similar toy in the 1970s that they discontinued because of the possibility of infants getting their fingers stuck and trapped in the ribbon loops.

    I agree that the patent is absurd... and SO hard to read / understand, too!

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  6. I was selling a 'taggie' on etsy until today when I was told it was an infringement on the patent. How ridiculous that a blanket can be patented! I love your statement above about the ease of making this blanket.
    I love this statement from 'Ester':
    As far as the Taggies patent goes, it illustrates how little the USPTO understands about apparel manufacturing processes. There is nothing, NOTHING, unique about the process of folding a ribbon in half and inserting it into a seam. One can debate about the other "unique" aspects of their product, but no patent should have ever been granted for the insertion of a ribbon into a seam.

    SO TRUE! Can it be challenged in court? Just curious.

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  7. Yes, any patent can be challenged in court. I think this one has a fairly good chance of being defeated (especially if the Fisher Price toy in the 1970's can be proven). Problem is it will cost A LOT of money and take a few years. Intellectual Property lawyers charge about $500/hour. That's a lot of money and if you are up for the challenge, go for it. The owners of this patent has made no bones about protecting it and they won't go down without a fight.

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  8. Anonymous1:49 PM

    I had never heard of "Taggie." (my "baby" is 30 years old) I saw the sales staff stocking a display basket at an upscale children's shop. These were "taggie" type blankets made by a woman at home, of minkie fabric. I looked at them and there were no labels, etc. so I know these were handmade. I saw the price tag - YIKES - $27. I thought I could make one for my soon to be grand baby. I made a few and listed them on Etsy. Mine were also removed due to patent infringement. I had no idea. I felt like an absolute criminal rather than the naive crafter that I am.

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  9. A commenter asked if ribbons without loops were ok and not in violation of the patent. I don't know. Do you want to risk being sued? Pretty similar idea and the owners of this patent have made it clear they will send out scary letters (at a minimum).

    BTW, as a gentle reminder, its not a good idea to put your email address in a public comment.

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  10. I'm really confussed about this patent recently. I just saw yesterday that in Lotta's new book she has a how to make a ribbon baby blanket. If a big time sewing guru publishes it in her book, will Taggies go after her? And if they do will she cave?

    I got the same email about the ribbon blankets being patented. Its such a shame because this idea has been around for AGES. I used to think Taggies was a cool mom run company. But seeing how brutaly they hunt people down just made me sad. Especially when this idea of theirs wasn't unique to begin with.

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  11. Anonymous8:52 PM

    ok, I bought a pattern from walmart (Ya you read that right, I BOUGHT THIS PATTERN FROM WALMART)on how to make a security blanket with ribbon! I had never heard of taggies before today when etsy told me I had to take it down. I was trying to find a way to write my son's name on his blanky for school (everything has to be labeled) and adding a bit of ribbon for this purpose is covered under the "taggie all knowing all seeing patent law"! I liked this walmart pattern and made a few extra since it was SO EASY!! I now tell all my Mom friends and all his classmates about this "super friendly mega company" that goes after a few workin stiffs on Etsy!

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    Replies
    1. they only hold the patent for sewing a loop between two pieces of fabric for babies don't they? not for any bit of ribbon on a blanket?

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  12. Anonymous10:04 PM

    When I started making things for all my family members that were having babies I never even knew there was a thing called taggies....I just thought how cool would it be to have something to hook toys/binkies to a little blanket....well I found out real quick today that I was infringing on the patent with my etsy shop they pretty much took everything off my listings. I felt bad and don't want to get into any trouble for putting ribbon on a blanket. I never thought in a million years after seeing hundreds and hundreds of listings like mine that I would get into any trouble for something I was making. Thanks for all the good information. By the way if you unlist everything after the 1st threatening email about infringing has anyone ever gotten in trouble/sued????
    Thanks

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  13. Anonymous3:59 PM

    Yep, the 'super cool mom run company' known as Taggies is run by a super B woman who can't handle someone making anything with a ribbon on it! I had a blanket on etsy with ONE RIBBON ON THE SIDE to attach a binky or toy or to a stroller so it didn't hit the ground, and they removed my listing! BUT reading the patent, it should only cover a square blanket with ribbons on ALL sides, so this woman is taking things too far, and guess what, the bad PR is going to hurt her business. I will certainly be passing along her 'wonderful' attitude along and the affluent area I live in will also knwo about it.

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  14. Anonymous4:02 PM

    I am new to etsy and have been making blankets with ribbons on all sides for a long time. My friends and family love them and I am really upset that this patent was passed in the first place. I re-named mmmy products so that they do not have the words tag or taggies in them, but I'm still worried about legal action.

    I agree with Esther above:
    "I think there are better ways to protect your product. Try superior product quality, customer service, shopping experience. Sure, others will copy and imitate, but you can do better in all of those areas. Build loyalty on trust - not threatened action."

    This designer with the patent has gone overboard. I will never support any of her products, and do my best to make sure that no one I know does either. How do you like that Ms. Taggie designer?

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  15. This is ridiculous. I am 30, my mum made me a blanket with ribbon tags like this that I had from newborn until I was 7. I have photos to prove it somehwere. Maybe I should have her take it up with this US company... It isn't really a "genius idea" I bet there are heaps of peopel out there who have been making these since before this person ever thought of doing it.

    It's like saying you can't make a cloth nappy with snap in booster and snap closing front.

    I am all for protecting a persons original idea, but seriously this is going too far, Ok, so she has registered the name, I agree people shouldn't be able to call them taggies if they are making them to sell, but to proscute because someone is selling a product that has tags on it... hmmm, who can't handle a bit of healthy competition??

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  16. Anonymous6:53 PM

    Good Heavens...this is craziness! I've made them for friends kids and for loot bags @ 1st B-day parties and now have received a notification on my f/book group that I should delete them so I wont be sued. There will be alot of sad kids out there who are soothed by the tags as I can see alot of people boycotting this brand!

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  17. Anonymous1:53 PM

    Has there been any updates on this issue? It seems that they are going after people making any kind of blanket with a ribbon on it not just something close to their "taggie design". How is it possible to have a small bussiness owners online shop emptied of items that clearly don't resemble the "taggie"? Not in fabric, style, size, construction, color...the only thing that remotely resembles it is the use of ribbon loops. Even these are not attached in the same way, they have only a few and they are not on the edge.

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  18. Anonymous5:47 PM

    I am so saddened by all this. Its good to know that everyone seems to feel the same way...the taggie people have gone OVERBOARD and i will not support them in the future.
    I too had no idea i was stealing someones idea. I had two small pieces of ribbon on ONE side...now i'm afarid to make a blanket in general after reading "two pieces of fabric that are sew together".
    It seems they were/are low on sales and therefore having to cut off us REAL STAY AT HOME MOMS from making any extra $ on the side.
    They had there chance, let us have ours!

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  19. Anonymous8:04 AM

    Taggies has gone way overboard. I am a new seller on Etsy, and posted several small softies with ribbon loop attachments for hooking them to other toys. They were not of differing colors, or textures ect. They were small fruits with ribbon loops! They in NO way resemble anything I have ever seen sold by Taggies, while there are hundreds of these tag blankets being sold. Totally unfair, and I will never buy another thing from Taggies (my son actually had a cute outfit from them at one time). I will also be spreading the word about how they "enforce" their patent on such a simple idea!

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  20. Talked to my bf about this since he has a patent of his own. Apparently it's anything that has ribbon loops around the circumference of the item. However, if you can find a picture or prove that these items were made before 2003 (when her patent was issued) then her patent will be null and void because she didn't invent this herself.

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  21. I decided to just redesign my toys. I only used one ribbon loop to hold the teething ring. To make up for the loss of ribbon loops around the body, I inserted a squeaker.

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/LilBitSassy?section_id=6205667

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  22. How strange, I only just came across this debate. I thought that ribbon tags was one of the most common details on baby items. You don't need to be a genius to think up the idea.

    And if her patent is for a blanket why is she going after other completely differnt items with ribbons on them. Perhaps she has not read her own patent?

    There are heaps of large companies which make items with ribbon loops on them, is she going after them? I would think that they would be a bigger threat to her profits than small designers.

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  23. It seems that the patent is so broad, that anyone who uses ribbon loops on ANY type of baby item is infringing. I can't believe the patent office even let her have a patent that was so broad in it's description.

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  24. Anonymous12:31 PM

    I make a little lady bug that has ribbons for "wings", it was just removed today by Etsy as "Taggie" stated I was infringing on their patent. So does this mean that now all my little stuffies that have "wings" will have to be "wingless"? This is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard of. It's like saying they have a patent on a sandwich...anything between two pieces of bread belongs to them....I know I will certainly never make a purchase of one of their items and will make darn sure no one I know does either...

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  25. Anonymous5:01 PM

    I am furious right now. Honestly, I have NEVER heard of the actual Taggies,INC. Company. I have seen the product before, but only locally in my community. I live in a small town in Michigan and we have many craft shows. Everyone has been selling them for awhile and when I got pregnant I purchased one for my son. I recently listed it on Ebay because my son never used it. I was flagged and then my listing was removed, because I disobeyed the patent. How can I disobey something that I never knew existed for one and for two EVERYONE is making them. Is is the name that is patented or the actual product?

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  26. Anonymous7:13 PM

    I think we all need to file a class action suit against "Taggies" I've been making blankets like this for 13 years and this is the first I've heard of this company. This is nuts! I got my idea from a baby magazine or book that suggested sewing ribbons onto the edge of a blanket, after I figured out that ribbons with raw edges frayed I started sewing them on folded over. So how does this company get the credit for this?

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous6:13 AM

      I was just telling my husband the same thing!

      Delete
    2. Anonymous11:25 PM

      I'm 20 I've just spoken to my dad who is 50 I had a ticket blanket as I called it when I was a baby and also my dad had one and his sisters eldest being 60 had one when they were babies the company is totally just making money of of something people used to do back in 1954 "/ something back then that was made with love for a loved one and is now factory made for idol parents

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  27. Two things:
    1. Don't most products have at least a product tag or care instruction tag on them?? Is that an infringement? And isn't that tag how the Taggies brand was born?

    2. Those tags are DANGEROUS! Some one mentioned above that a major toy company took them off the market because of the risk. My daughter's finger got stuck in a normal product care tag on her blanket and when we discovered it, her finger was black! Luckily, it all turned out OK for us, but I cut all tags open that go into her bed from now on!! For the full story you can see it here:

    http://loridanelle.blogspot.com/2010/05/results-of-cutting-open-tags.html

    I even contacted Taggies about the possible risk & got a very "nice" letter in return. So glad they paid attention. Ha!! Hopefully they took it more seriously internally than they did on paper.

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  28. Anonymous9:06 AM

    I just got a letter through etsy about selling my blankets and they were removed. When I did a search on etsy for taggy blankets, 244 listings came up! How is it that those people can sell their items, yet I cannot? Can I cut my loops and relist? I'm afraid of being sued, yet since my site was new, I hadn't sold anything yet. Has anyone been served who has gotten a similar letter?

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous6:33 PM

      I'm about to do the same thing with all of my listings. I don't want to be sued either. I will cut through all of my ribbons and strip of fabric to make a loop. Technically its not a ribbon so if anything, they can't sue me. I refuse to purchase anything from Kids II, seeing as how rediculous they are to even go after moms. Its really bs, and I will start selling them exclusively at craft shows. Can't show up at everyone and patrol.

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    2. Anonymous5:22 PM

      I had the exact same thing happen to me today. The question is... can we cut loops and relist???? I'm curious to know. I am a mother of child with sensory processing disorder and borderline autistic disorder.... I started making them when he lost his original one that he had since he was born. It was such a comfort to him.... I needed backups. And everyone in my family and friends loves them. They encouraged me to open up shop and sell these on Etsy. My shop is new (opened in March 11 and only 1 sale) and I received this same info. How frustrating!!!

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  29. Hello again,
    I feel your pain! When my 3 blankets were removed I was so surprised, they didn't even resemble the Taggies blanket. I see blankets with looped tags on them all the time on Etsy and I can’t explain why they are not removed as well because they look exactly like the Taggie blanket. I had just listed the blankets in my new shop, so I think that they go after the new shops or new listings. I did a lot of research and was determined that I had a right to make blankets with ribbon loops as it was something I made years ago. I couldn’t find much support for my cause so I gave up. I continue to make baby items that are creative and fun without looped tags. I’ve noticed other shops that had their product removed have come up with very creative products as well.
    Taggies may have the patent but they are not the originator of the product. I truly wish someone would file a class action suit against "Taggies".

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  30. Anonymous9:46 PM

    My 12-year-old daughter saw some fleece blankets at Heirlooms for Hospice about 2 years ago. They were minky on one side...fleece on the other...and had little ribbon loops all around the 4 edges. She started making them for friends...and sold some at craft fairs. Good to know my 12-year-old AND the Hospice Volunteers are criminals.

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  31. Anonymous6:05 PM

    I see many blankets on-line where the tags are cut at the end, heat sealing the edges, so that they are no longer loops, just strips to avoid infringement. Has anyone who does this received a letter from Taggies to shut down, or been removed from Etsy?

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  32. Taggis patent is for LOOPED RIBBONS ONLY. I too was victim to taggies patent. If you CUT the ribbons it is not an infringement on their patent. I also had toys with ribbons for ears and they were taken down as taggies patent is for any child product with LOOPED ribbons at the seams ie - toys, clothing, blankets, bedding, pillows, etc.

    They have even gone as far as requesting products from sellers and the seller "oking" to make the product and them threatening to sue the maker if she actually went through with the product.

    Taggies reps are nuts! They seriously pay people to search the internet all day long for ladies who make and sell the product.

    FYI its even illegal to make them for the home, not even to sell!

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  33. Anonymous4:11 PM

    I just want to know if you do make them can they be sold at a craft show or given away as gifts...

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  34. Anonymous11:35 AM

    I recently got an email about this "infringement" as well. I removed the word "taggie" from my site and was still told "I cannot make them or sell them"? I read all the about posts and have not heard for sure if you cut the ribbon loops open, if this is still an infringement. I was donating money I got from blankets to a charity, really hoping this doesn't have to end :(

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  35. Anonymous12:24 PM

    HI. I just heard about this the other day at a local fabric store! I have been making burp cloths with ribbon loops for friends babies for a while now and was considering selling them on etsy. I think it is incredible that this patent even went through! Arent they supposed to be specific as to size, number, etc? Can you use fabric "appendages" instead of ribbon for the same effect? What if the ribbon loops are sewn shut? I am afraid to ask the Taggie company, since they are so sue happy and they apparently dont have an original idea in their heads!

    Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!

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  36. Anonymous1:55 PM

    I agree the Taggie company is outrageous in their patent claim. Fortunately, they can not and will not prosecute everyone who makes these for babies. And the owner's poor attitude and tactics is going to cost her a lot of business. It's really not such a great idea anyway, and will probably die out a long with her company.

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  37. Anonymous6:08 PM

    Has anyone ever actually gotten sued? I was pretty sure that in my knowledge of patent rights, if she fails to protect her patent in one instance, she is setting a presidence and will loose enforcement rights.

    And I agree there should be a class action against their patent. Many people working together could share the burdon and make it possible for creative designers to resume their creativity without the wolves dripping over their shoulders.

    And your point about the basics of this design is totally true! It's no different than Levis trying to patent a flat felled seam!

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  38. Thanks for bringing up Levi's tags. Are they now also in danger of being sued?

    I have to go now. I have a patent on the hem that needs writing!

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  39. really?? my grandmother made these for us when we were little?? How can someone patent something that has been around for generations??? Lucky they can't sue anyone posthumously!!!

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  40. Etsy removes these not because they agree that they're an alleged patent violation but because if any lawsuit is brought by this uber-aggressive Taggies lady then Etsy will be brought into the lawsuit as the venue of sale. Etsy doesn't want to take on the Taggie company's lawyers.

    And as to some of the other comments, I believe their patent has nothing to do with a ribbon such as a Levi's tag, but ribbons enclosed in a circle for the specific purpose of intellectual or sensory stimulation of a baby.

    That said, I have discouraged everyone I know from buying Taggies. This design has been around forever, it's not novel, she essentially stole it from common knowledge and it 'hoarding' it.

    IMO, This lawsuit could easily be fought and one if you can afford the lawsuit, or, if you are an attorney yourself. I think that's why the Taggies lady relies on attacking and threatening the venues (craft shows/Etsy) and not suing the individuals. Bringing on a fight you may lose is a bad idea. She'll lose one day.

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  41. I'm sorry but those of you applying that whoever knowingly makes taggie blankets is just making money off of other's ideas is ridiculous. The idea was only patented in 2000. My MOM who is now 43 had a blanket made by her grandmother that would now be considered a "taggie" blanket. It's well known babies like loops/zippers/buttons. Someone just decided to be greedy and patent an idea that has been used in one way or another for ages. The link to the patent is here http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=RE38782.PN.&OS=PN/RE38782&RS=PN/RE38782

    The patent is for all four sides to have "tags" on them. So maybe just do two or three? Or add an extra sheet of fabric in the middle and sew the taggies to that. Ridiculous that this was patented.

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  42. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Just read thru the WHOLE patent application and description. Also viewed the drawing registered. The patent says that it is an 'interactive blanket or pillow" It does not include shapes, animals,etc. The drawing includes 6 loops on each side = 24 ribbon style loops, so I do not see how someone sewing one-two loops to a fabric shape to hang or attach items to it can possibly ""infringe"" on a patent. I agree that etsy may be covering their legal backsides to an extremely jealous company that seems to have no interest in small family cottage businesses. Baby items have been made for hundreds of years, and will be for many,many more- with or without this company.

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  43. Anonymous9:18 PM

    I received the intimidating correspondence in my etsy shop also. I removed all THREE items that were similar items with loops. I used ribbon, fabric, and fur trim in all sizes, using 2 loops per side of my small blankets. I had not sold any, so did not "profit" from them. It is sad when a large company is afraid of a small shop with 3 items that are claimed to be an infringement on their copyright. I don't fully understand the patent's 9 pages. Some of the statements were dated well before the patent. And the several page description are much more inclusive of ANY loop or attachment than the more specific patent paragraph. I, too, will not support their company and am thinking of other items to replace the THREE taggie blankets. I just hope my 7 month old granddaughter won't tell on me when someone spies her taggie that I made.

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