Patterns vs Patents vs Patterns

Posted on

November 17, 2022

Blog by

Daniel Watts

Since the launch of Pattern Room we have seen clients finding us from all corners of the globe. The only continents not yet represented on the world map we keep in our office are South America and Antarctica. I suspect we won’t ever have a client in Antarctica, but who knows?!

One of the things that does seem to challenge those who are new to the industry and Pattern Room in particular is the difference between patterns, patents and patterns. I know, I can hear most of you already saying “I know what a patent is and that’s not what Pattern Room sells”. True enough, but our Australian accent (note: we don’t have an accent, everyone else does) does, at times, confuse people. We say “pattern” they hear “patent”.

Then there is the “what the heck is the difference between a pattern and a pattern??”. More on that soon!

So, you are right Pattern Room is all things clothing patterns. The catalog, at time of writing this, has more than 216,000 of them in it and that is growing all the time. More styles, more options, more fits.

Pattern vs Pattern

This is where we get into semantics.

To us, a pattern is a template of sorts that is used to cut out something in order to then make a whole object. In our case it is garments. Lay down some fabric, pop the pattern on the fabric, cut around the lines and sew the pieces of together and you have a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, a jacket, etc. You get the picture.

Even better, as our patterns are digital, run them up in Adobe ® Illustrator or similar, throw some graphics on them and get started on the dye sublimation printing, laser cutting (or hand cutting) and sew it. Now you have something that is individual and customer friendly (aka. that’s what they want for their basketball, cricket, soccer, etc. uniforms).

Some people interpret “pattern” as the print that is on the fabric. Checks or stripes or paisley that is printed onto the fabric. Yes, they are a pattern on the fabric, but don’t, on their own, help you make a garment. We call these “prints” or “surface prints”. It’s an important difference.

We make and supply patterns. What fabric you choose to then make the garment from is entirely up to you, whether it has a print on it or not, that is your call.


I should note at this point, we are not lawyers. Sure, we know some really nice ones, but that is not what we do or offer.

A patent, according to IP Australia – “…is a right that is granted for any device, substance, method or process that is new, inventive and useful. A patent is a legally enforceable right to commercially exploit the invention for the life of the patent.

It can apply to pretty much anything, but it is about a new invention or a significant improvement on something that has already been invented. That doesn’t sound like what we sell, does it? Although we would argue that Pattern Room is an entirely new process. Time to call the lawyers!

If you’ve invented something that you think will be useful, our suggestion, go see an intellectual property lawyer about it.

Take away

We sell the thing that allows you to cut out pieces of fabric that when sewn together make a garment, be it a t-shirt, shorts, tracksuit pants, jacket, etc. These patterns are the templates you need when you want to make a textile product.

We don’t sell the checks or stripes or print that is on fabric. We leave that up to the fabric makers, graphic designers, dye sublimators and direct to garment printers. They are specialist in that.

And, importantly, we are not lawyers and can’t help you protect your new invention.

Hopefully this helps to explain, though I am sure our “accent” will continue to make some people wonder what the heck we are talking about.