Re: Cataloging your fly-tying names - by Randal Sumner
I think ianhughscott and flyfishbds had it pretty much right. There's a lot of misinformation going around about intellectual property such as patents, copyrights and trademarks (as well as trade secrets, which hasn't come up in this context). First off, a trademark does not bar someone from tying the same fly (despite what Randal said in his article opening this thread) - only calling it the trademarked name or close variations would constitute an infringement. And unless someone made and sold those trademarked flies by their trademarked name or close variations, it's hard to imagine what the damages would be for infringement of the trademark.
As for copyrighting the "recipe" for the fly, it doesn't take much to legally circumvent a copyright. Copyright infringement generally involves literally copying word-for-word someone else's written work (in this context) for commercial gain. Substantially rewording the process for tying the fly would probably be enough to avoid copyright infringement.
Last but not least, whether a fly could be patented depends upon a number of factors, not least how "obvious" the concept of that particular fly is, whether it has been previously disclosed publicly (by anyone) a year or more prior to patent filing, etc., keeping in mind that the mere granting of a patent by the U.S. Patent Office is absolutely no assurance at all that it will withstand invalidation by the courts. And I would think a patented fly - if such even exists - would be very easy to legally "design around"; after all, much of fly-tying (at least in my case) seems to be coming up with alternative materials and methods for tying a particular fly I'm trying to emulate.
Bottom line: unless you are tying commercially or writing books on fly-tying, I don't see much to fear in tying flies for your own use that you've seen elsewhere.
On the whole, I'd rather be in Wyoming . . .