Seiko modding, and watch modding in general, is a perfectly legal hobby to have, but if you’re only getting into it, there are a few laws that will be useful to acquaint yourself with to start. Many laws cover intellectual property violations and are put in place to protect companies and individuals’ hard work. As we go through each one, we’ll get into how they relate to watch modding.
The Patent Law
When a person invents something completely new or something that is a significant improvement from an existing invention, they have the option to release it for commercial use. If they choose to do so, they can apply for a patent, which is only valid in the country where you use it. Depending on what you invent, you must apply for a patent in every country you think might need it.
If you acquire a patent, you’re legally entitled to being the only one who can use your invention for up to twenty years. In terms of Seiko modding, some Seiko parts are patented, like their revolutionary spring drive movements.
The parts were patented in 1977 and are now one of the 230 different patents for this technology. Aside from that, unless you’re planning on directly copying patented Seiko mod parts to apply for your patent, you won’t be running into any legal issues.
The Trademark Law
The trademark law is there to tie a particular product or feature to a specific company. In addition, it also serves to guarantee a brand’s quality to customers. A trademark protects the brand’s image and confirms the quality and originality of the product.
Regarding Seiko modding, most countries generally follow the rule that you can do whatever you want with the things you buy, so long as you aren’t breaking any rules. It is true for the application of the trademark law in Seiko modding.
Replacing Seiko parts with other trademarked mod parts is perfectly legal if it remains for your personal use. Buying trademark-protected mod parts are also permitted as long as you purchase from licensed manufacturers.
However, it’s a different matter when unauthorised suppliers of Seiko mod parts create their parts and sell these as part of Seiko’s production. Buying, using, and selling parts with the unlawful use of Seiko’s trademarked logo is considered going against the law.
The Design Law
Design laws are not as clear cut as the past two laws discussed, but it’s still worth mentioning. Two or three-dimensional product designs are what falls under the protection of this law. They have to be new and completely different from already existing designs.
Because of the subjective nature of design and art, there isn’t a lot of worry for this law when it comes to Seiko modding. After all, there are only so many things you can do for a watch’s design.
However, if you want to use a homage watch case or even produce your dial, it’s good to check with your local patent office’s database. From there, you can see if any of the ones you want to use are protected.
While Seiko modding is a perfectly legal hobby, it’s still good practice to inform yourself of the laws that might affect your activities. These laws are helpful for any member of the watch modding community in general and provide a good guideline for what you can and can’t do with your timepieces. The laws are a good reminder to only source your mod parts from suppliers or manufacturers you can trust completely.
Seiko Mods is a UK-based manufacturer of Seiko mod parts. We ship worldwide and specialise in the design and manufacture of sapphire crystals as well. Visit our website for more information!