Books Recommended for Art Business Development.
Copyright, Fair Use and Baseball Cards

Jewelry from found objects that are medical devices? Am I committing patent infringement, or worse?


 Quick Set, Diabetic for Life Series 2008
Materials:  Silver, garnets
 Photo credit: Michael R. Erdman 

Dear Harriete,
I make castings of some diabetic pump sites that I use personally.  I have made a few jewelry pieces out of them, and was wondering if I might get in trouble for using them? Could the company sue me?

Kelsey Simmen


I assume that you are not using the actual operating pump as jewelry, but casting some of the parts to be used as abstract forms or decorative elements. You are not:

  • selling the diabetic pump,
  • competing with the pump manufacturer by producing or selling a similar diabetic pump
  • confusing the consumer that purchases a diabetic pump for medical purposes.


Silhouette, Diabetic for Life Series 2006
 Materials: Silver, garnets
Photo credit: Adrian Ordenana

Your jewelry appears to be transforming the diabetic pump into a decorative piece of jewelry.  You are making a commentary about the decorative value of these pumps and the statement appears to involve the idea that people wear diabetic pumps without thinking about their decorative possibilities. You are publicly revealing the diabetic pump that is usually hidden underneath clothing, etc., to create a conversation about what we wear and why we wear it.


 Little Quick Set,
 Diabetic for life Series    2008

 Silver, garnets
 Photo credit: Adrian Ordenana

For all these reasons, I don't think that a diabetic pump manufacturer should be concerned with your "fair use" of a component of their device in this new and thought-provoking fashion (pun intended).

One more suggestion.  Change your materials description for the photographic image to silver and garnets as shown here (below the photos).  Eliminate the reference to "silver casting" (most people don't care whether it is cast or not) and the casting technique is irrelevant to the concept behind your work.

Also, eliminate any reference to a specific brand name or trademark name of the manufacturer in the description. This is not to hide identity but to avoid the appearance that the company endorses your work in any way.  In your artist statement include information about the reason for using diabetic pump parts. If the pump manufacturer is important to the concept you could include that information.

Hope this information helps you feel more comfortable continuing with this series. It seems like an idea worth pursuing in-depth and with continued evolution. 

This post was updated on December 27, 2021.