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OK kind of an off the wall question, but does anyone know how these companies get away with making duplicate parts or reproduction parts and sell them? What are the patent laws? I guess what Im trying to say is , if I wanted to knock off a part that GM, or ford makes like an air filter or control arm or piece of sheetmetal. What are the laws against or for this. If you are not allowed to do it, then how do restoration or after market companies do it? For example Covan classics makes a dash insert for first gen camaros that is an exact replacement except it has a blank face on it or predrilled holes.
 

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Patents only last 17 years, but trademarks last forever. Things like the "Camaro by Chevrolet" emblem would be a trademark, not a patent. Some parts are reproduced with Chevy's permission, but I'm betting some of the Pacific rim stuff does not have the same licensed permission.
 

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You also have to realize that they have to apply for patents in other countries and that too is very costly.

Here is an example. Say I want to make a modified upper control arm, it would cost as much as $50,000 to have patents that would only last a short while and if the other company modified it enough they could say it is a different product and bypass the patent
 

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If I understand correctly, you can't patent the shape or design of something. Thus, there should be no problem with reproducing almost any car part. The patent on the a-arm suspension probably expired 40 years ago, so I don't see why you couldn't make repro a-arms for various models of cars. Holley lost its court battle with Barry Grant a couple of years ago. Holley tried to argue that BG was infringing on its various patents by copying Holley's design.

As Unreal pointed out, if the part have GM or Chevy's name on it, then you have a trademark issue and will need a license in order to reproduce the part. Also, the shape of something can be a trademark - the classic Coke bottle is a good example.

However, trademarks must be used continously to avoid becoming obsolete and uneforceable. A good example of this is the "Cobra" trademark, which has moved into the public domain. Ford lost a court case several years ago when it tried to stop someone from using the name Cobra on a car. Basically, because Ford had not used the Cobra name on a car for many years, they lost the right to use it exclusively in the future.
 
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