Copyright length on electronic designs?

Thread Starter


Joined Mar 24, 2005
Hi all!

Maybe a strange question, but are there a set amount of time for
copyright on electronic designs? For example, could an Atari 2600 or
NES be freely reproduced after a set number of years?

Thanks :)


Joined Nov 30, 2010
If I knew about copyrights and patents, I'd be too busy counting my money to hang out at this site:D


Joined Apr 28, 2012
You can sell a Replika.

The OS ROM and the custom chips are licensed, copyrighted and or monopolized.

They may not exist anymore on the market.
and they may be so primitive you can emulate them in software.

This is the usual way how this really gets done.
And you can sell that, as for home computers.
Some of those personal computers had in ULA chips so they would be hard if not impossible to copy.
The Sinclair Spectrum definitely did and I think the Commodore 64 did.


Joined Jan 5, 2012
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is no way legal advice.

It's pretty confusing since copyrights have been extended by legislation. Depending on when it was published, it's usually life of the author + 70 years, 95 years from the date of publication, or 120 years from the date of creation (in the US).

Copyrights don't prevent someone from recreating something on their own (like Compaq did for the IBM BIOS, using clean room engineering - where people poring over designs and creating specifications have only controlled contact with people implementing the specifications). Patents would, but they have a shorter lifespan.

Unfortunately, intellectual property laws are very complicated. If you're looking to commercialize something, you would really want to consult an attorney specializing in these issues.