Escher lizard paving-stones

GeckoStone makes tesselated paving stones that look like Escher's interlocking lizards. (hilariously, they've registered a trademark and claim copyright on this work derived from a classic Escher work that is, itself, copyrighted -- and there's no evidence that they licensed the design from Escher's estate; every pirate wants to be an admiral!)

GeckoStone (via Make)


  1. BOO

    Bad idea all around,they’ll break almost everywhere, and the edges would be impossible

  2. If you’re going to go through the trouble of making a mold, it wouldn’t be difficult to set up a jig for rebar or something lighter depending on size, and if you’re using the appropriate materials & not working in cold weather you’re fine.

    At an economic volume the breaking & spalling issues would be simple to address. Then again, looks like he’s the litigious type given the copyright attempt..

    Side note: did anyone else have this as a puzzle as a child? red, yellow and blue geckos? I wonder if that was copyrighted..

  3. They have tiles like these out side of Mama’s Fish House in Maui (and have had them for at least 15 years if not longer). I’ve always wanted some of my own!

  4. Mama’s Fishouse on Maui has this exact same pattern in cement on the walkway into the restaurant.

    I’ve always admired it but didn’t realize it was prolly used in a lot of places.

    If you’re visiting Maui, DO TRY Mama’s Fishouse, it is awesome!

    “If you loved me you’d take me to Mama’s”

  5. The general idea of interlocking lizard tiles might have been patentable at one time but not copyrightable. Obviously there is prior art here so unless you made an exact copy of the design, it wouldn’t be a copyright issue. I think they are in the clear and are able to copyright the particular markings on the lizard and maybe even get a patent to prevent duplicates close enough to mix in with their product.

  6. So that’s what interlocking means…

    *Interlock: (definition) “to connect so that motion of any part is constrained by another.”

    Thanks, geckostone!

  7. I hate to break it to Geckostone and Escher’s foundation alike but I’m pretty sure Someone Else can claim prior credit for the lizard design. Then again, where is He going to find a lawyer?

  8. SMASHZ — It borders on criminal that you post photos of your beautiful gecko patio without saying who the manufacturer is and from where the pavers can be obtained! :-)

    And yes, I’ve tried Google …

  9. It looks to me like they only copyrighted that particular photo. Nothing controversial about that: the photographer gets the copyright of a photo he made.

  10. nothing wrong with art tiles in the inner sanctum. Unshod pedal extremities wouldn’t crack them and one could luxuriate in the complex textures, especially if they were heated.

  11. I admire this work. What’s the shame in being a pirate anyway? Just a matter of cut, copy, & paste. Total overloard botnet control, intimately.

  12. Seems to me that pattern would work a lot better as a stamp embossed into concrete rather than a tile. That way you wouldn’t need be as concerned w\ the pieces cracking, nor with the difficulties of grouting/sanding them

  13. Just noticed:

    Designing Tessellations : The Secrets of Interlocking Patterns (Hardcover)
    by Jinny Beyer

    at Amazon

  14. @19

    Did you see those officially licensed soft tiles linked to in the comments? Interesting.

  15. >>> they’ve registered a trademark and claim copyright on this work derived from a classic Escher work that is, itself, copyrighted — and there’s no evidence that they licensed the design from Escher’s estate

    Well, I would not be surprised if this work is already public domain. In which case they don’t need to licence the work to use it.

    (I don’t know when this precise drawing was done by Escher, he started working on tessellations around 1936, and copyright lasts 50 years, or 70 years… so…?)

    But, of course, copyrighting the work is ridiculous!

  16. T2M, Copyright in the US typically lasts until 70 years after the death of the creator. But given when Escher made the Reptiles drawing, it would probably be 95 years from creation.

  17. I have four of these molds. They’re nice, but it’s hard to get good-quality pavers without some decent concrete skills. Once interlocked (with sand swept into the cracks) they’re fairly sturdy. On their own, though, they are prone to breakage.

    These have been around for years, and are not identical to Escher’s drawing. It may have been Escher’s idea, but copyright doesn’t cover ideas, as Cory is so fond of reminding us. A patent might have been more appropriate.

  18. I was thinking about putting some kind of Escher-inspired tile pattern in my bathroom, but I can’t decide between fish or bird shapes. What to do, what to do…

    But you definitely don’t want to look to that guy for architectural tips. Ever since I installed that stairwell in my foyer I can never remember which dimension I left my keys in.

  19. @33, if you can’t copyright an idea,

    and @30 if Penrose tiles are non-repeating,

    then how do you copyright Penrose tile patterns, since there is an infinite number of unique expressions of the idea?

  20. “The fronting for the eighty-yard long marble-topped bar had been made by stitching together nearly twenty thousand Antarean Mosaic Lizard skins, despite the fact that the twenty thousand lizards concerned had needed them to keep their insides in.” – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

  21. #35, jfrancis:

    if Penrose tiles are non-repeating,

    then how do you copyright Penrose tile patterns, since there is an infinite number of unique expressions of the idea?

    It appears that Penrose works with (owns?) a company named ‘Pentaplex’ to licence sections of Penrose tiling specifically for use in tissue paper. They might even show you some designs if you sign their NDA.

  22. @37 Beanolini: It appears that Penrose works with (owns?) a company named ‘Pentaplex’ to licence sections of Penrose tiling specifically for use in tissue paper. They might even show you some designs if you sign their NDA.

    So how do they stop the people who buy the tissue paper from seeing the design?


    Ever get the feeling that your brain must be too highly-trained?

  23. #38, NotACat:

    So how do they stop the people who buy the tissue paper from seeing the design?

    Don’t you read the EULA on your bogroll?

  24. The Letter

    Dear Mr. August,

    We, the M.C. Escher Company B.V., are the exclusive, world-wide representatives of the M.C. Escher Copyright.

    We are informed that, without authorisation, you have been producing, marketing, publishing and selling paving stones and/or molds for these stones bearing an image (Reptiles) by the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher.

    These actions constitute violations of our copyright and render you and any other person or company engaged in these transactions with respect to the infringing products liable as copyright infringers, subject to all available remedies. Such remedies include preliminary and permanent injunctive relief,
    compensatory damages in an amount equal to all profits earned from the sale of the infringing products, additional compensatory damages arising from the dilution of value of our copyrights and authorised products and/or damages per infringement.

    Accordingly, demand is hereby made that you, upon receipt of this letter:

    1. Cease and desist immediately from any further advertising, marketing, producing, offering for sale, distribution, sale or commercial exploitation of the aforementioned products and any other products that infringe any copyright and/or trademark rights.

    2. Deliver forthwith all units of the aforementioned products and any other products that are in your possessions, custody or control as of the date of receipt of this letter.

    3. Make payment to us forthwith of an amount equal to all profits received and/or receivable by you from the commercial exploitations of the aforementioned products and any other infringing products.

    4. Provide our office forthwith with an affidavit by an authorized officer of your company stating the following:

    (i) A description of all items produced and/or distributed by you that incorporate reproductions of M.C. Escher images;

    (ii) The name and address of each individual company that bought or manufactured units of the infringing products and/or any other infringing products on your behalf;

    (iii) The number of units of the infringing products and any other infringing products manufactured;

    (iv) The number of units of the aforementioned products and any other infringing product sold and/or distributed and/or offered for sale, the name and full address of each purchaser, and the gross price charged;

    (v) The number of units of the aforementioned products and /or any other infringing product in inventory as of the date of receipt of this letter;

    (vi) A representation by you that the foregoing information as provided is accurate and complete;

    (vii) A representation by you that all commercial activity with respect to the infringing products ceased immediately upon receipt of this letter;

    (viii) A press release from your office to all newspapers/magazines and/or other publications in which you state that the aforementioned infringing products and/or any other infringing products will no longer be available and the reason why;

    (ix) A representation by you that the inventory turned over to us, in accordance with the demand set forth above, constitutes the entire inventory of infringing products in your possession, custody or control;

    (x) Your agreement to permit our accountants to examine your books and records for the purpose of verifying the foregoing information.

    Unless you provide the foregoing affidavit within ten (10) days upon receipt of this letter, and otherwise comply forthwith and completely with each of the foregoing demands, we shall be compelled to take all such further action as may be necessary to enforce and fully protect our rights, without further notice to you.

    No demand contained herein is intended or should be construed to restrict your right to sell genuine works or authorised licensed products.

    The foregoing is submitted without prejudice to and under any reservation of any and all rights we may have in this matter.

    Yours sincerely,

    (Name Redacted)
    The M.C. Escher Company B.V

    The Response

    (name Redacted):

    Just the fact that I have to take the time to respond to your absurd claim about my copying M.C. Escher’s work “reptiles” infuriates me to no end. I suggest you thoroughly read what I’m about to say then go back to your dark corner where you belong and put your dunce cap on.

    1. Do you understand the art of tessellation? Simply put, it is the repitition of IDENTICAL geometric forms (either animate or geometric) which cover a single plane indefinitely.

    2. I have studied Escher, and am a big fan of his. However, his drawing in question has a couple problems. For one, he never took the time to technically resolve this particular tessellation. He was a master illusionist, but in this case he only made it appear the reptiles were indentical, which in fact they were not. Simply trace his 3 central figures, stack up the tracings, and what do you get? Three distinctly different shapes. Not only that, his hexagonal geometry was only approximate, not precise. (See attachment “escher reptiles.”) Copyright laws are quite precise, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. There’s a lot of dead architects whose work Escher copied for his various drawings. Plus it’s a well known fact in the art world that artists use similar themes from other artists, Escher included. It’s all but impossible to truly have original ideas, esp these days.

    3. My design is not only distinctly different in many features, BUT I TOOK THE TIME TO RESOLVE THE TESSELLATION. Anyone who’s done any serious tessellations knows this to be a fact. Further, I have discovered along the way several other artists who also created their own version. My first copyright on my GeckoStone design and tessellation was issued in 1994. I revised the artwork again with a new copyright and revised tessellation in 1998. (See attachment “gecko C1994.”)

    4. My work is well known in the field of tiling and tessellation and has been viewed as similar, yet distinctly different than Eschers, both in US Federal Court (below) in Seattle, and having been published in many established magazines and books (all major publishing houses) – who wouldn’t dare do such if I was indeed infringing on Escher’s work.

    5. Now a few years ago one idiot (coincidentally a Dutchman by the name of Deboer from Canada) had the audacity to copy my original design and market a concrete paver resembling mine, setting up mfg in Canada, then distributing knock offs of my work all the way from Washington to California. I sued the
    whole food chain for infringement – and guess what? I won. I put him out of business. (see attached August vs. Deboer, et al)

    6. On top of that, during litigation the defendant Deboer forced me into a summary judgment by the court. It cost me over $20,000 to prove (on this one point of law alone) that not only did he copy me, but my design was also distinctly different than Escher’s. You know what the judge said? “I see more similarities in yours and August’s design than I see anything with Escher. Escher’s drawing is irrelevant as far as I’m concerned.” The summary judgment was ruled in my favor. (see attached summary judgment)

    The case files are public record. Why not spend your time there and not waste mine. You should be paying me for your legal & art education.

    So my suggestion to you is inform your fellow greedy foundation members to go take a hike. I expect a formal letter of apology written to the address below. If you are dumb enough to take legal action, keep a couple things in mind: 1) I’ve already established a legal precedent; and 2) Your company will be locking horns with not only myself but some VERY BIG publishing companies, and it will cost you more money and time than you can even imagine to press for a lawsuit. And if you do, I will also counter sue you for harassment, and demand both compensatory and punitive damages.

    Tread lightly,

    John August
    POB 306
    Volcano, HI 96785

  25. Hey John August
    Have you heard anything more from the Escher Foundation? I have a similar situation minus their letter.
    By the way Gecko Stone look somewhat alikes are still being cast. I saw them this spring.

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