I was curious about exactly what constitutes a “copy” of a menstrual cup, since it is such a controversial subject. So I started asking around about it, because I have seen a few brands popping up here and there that were legally labeled as “illegal copies” of a currently existing brand.
I was told that apparently, its true that all menstrual cups are in the general shape of a small, rubbery “cup”. But what we as individuals may see as tiny, nit-picky details in a design– actually mean a great deal in the legal world of cup manufacturers.
Another thing I learned was that some details count toward making the cup “unique” in the eyes of the law, while other details do not. Here was the low-down I was given:
Details/differences that DO NOT legally make a cup “unique”:
Mainly because these differences do not require a maker to actually “design” their own cup. They could simply copy an existing cup by making an impression into a casting mold and use a different color or material. Which legally, is not allowed, and is considered “copying”.
Details/differences that DO legally make a cup “unique” (because they require design changes):
– Thickness of the material in various areas of the cup
– Length/width of the cup and/or stem
– Exact shape and angle of the first and/or second rim
– Suction release holes (number of, shape, size, angle and position)
– Grip texture style, position, spacing, etc.
– Stem shape, thickness, texture
– Exact measurements if the entire cup, body and stem
Ideally, if you are going to design and manufacture a cup of your own and start a company, you should not be able to hold your cup up next to any other brand, and say that it matches that brand in most (or all) of these features. Specifically, what I call the “feature pattern” for a specific brand.
For example, the feature pattern for Lunette would be:
– Very subtle first and second rims
– 4 high suction release holes that do not slant
– Gently rounded body
– Particular thickness of cup walls
– Flat tab stem of a certain length, thickness and smoothness
If another cup has the same feature pattern (again, either most or all the same traits), it is considered a “copy” by law. Since Lunette owns the rights to this particular feature pattern/design– which is basically all of these features, combined together in one cup.
Bottom line: To successfully manufacture your own cup, you MUST mix and match every possible feature (preferably drawing up new original ideas of your own), and create a *legally* unique cup design.