“Do Not Duplicate” Key Law: Fact or Fiction?
Did you know that there is no such thing as a “Do Not Duplicate” key law?
You read that right. The “Do Not Duplicate” key inscription found on many business keys is not really a law – it is merely a suggestion. It is perfectly legal to make a copy of a key with such an inscription.
Finding a locksmith to make a copy of such a key is another matter entirely. Many chain stores, such as Ace, often refuse to duplicate such keys. Since it is legal to make copies of these keys, a “Do Not Duplicate” key locksmith will duplicate the keys anyway.
What Does “Do Not Duplicate” Mean?
Property owners and managers began pressing the “Do Not Duplicate” key message in an attempt to control security violations from terminated employees, former tenants, construction workers, vandals, and unwelcome guests in possession of a key to the premises. Instead of smashing a window or breaking down a door to gain entry to a business, intruders simply got a copy of a company’s keys. Imprinting keys with this warning created a way for business owners to communicate with locksmiths about the secure nature of certain keys.
Unauthorized key duplication remains a serious threat to security today. In fact, unauthorized key duplication is currently the single most violated security policy in business.
If you cannot control your keys, you cannot control the safety of your business. Having “Do not duplicate” inscribed on keys can reduce your organizations’ security risk as it does reduce the number of locksmiths willing to make copies.
The Associated Locksmiths of America’s View of ‘Do Not Duplicate’ Keys
Having a “Do not duplicate” message inscribed on your company keys may provide a false sense of security. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) says, “Do Not Duplicate Keys: Orders for keys stamped “Do Not Duplicate” or similar wording will be handled in the same manner as any unrestricted key.
ALOA members should inform the consumer that the use of keys stamped “Do Not Duplicate” or similar wording, is not effective security, and further that the use of such words is deceptive because it provides a false sense of security. Consumers who desire effective security should purchase a patented key control system rather than rely on a “Do Not Duplicate” marking. This does not apply to keys protected by law.”
As the statement implies, it is illegal to duplicate some keys. Locksmiths refer to these keys as “restricted,” meaning duplication rights are restricted to only the key’s original manufacturer. Restricted keys are covered by U.S. patent laws protect the procedures lock makers use to manufacture the lock and key systems. These laws impart a penalty of $10,000 for circumventing the procedures, including the illegal duplication of restricted keys.
On the other hand, the inscription can also hamper your company’s ability to provide keys to the appropriate personnel. If you have a key with printing that restricts duplication, you need the services of a qualified “Do Not Duplicate” key locksmith. These locksmiths have the training and expertise to make copies of such keys.
The “Do Not Duplicate” key locksmith can determine whether the key is unrestricted, meaning it can be legally copied by law, or if duplication of the key is prohibited by U.S. patent law.
Developing a long-term relationship with a “Do Not Duplicate” key locksmith helps you control both the security and the growth of your organization. These qualified locksmiths provide you with the information, locks and keys you need to protect your property from unwanted intruders.
If you suspect that duplicate keys are undermining the security of your organization, consider asking a qualified locksmith to rekey the locks on your properties. During rekeying, the locksmith changes the internal mechanism that accepts the keys, so that the previous keys will no longer work to open the lock.
A qualified locksmith can determine if you can legally duplicate a key stamped with this message and create key copies that work perfectly. Ask us about “Do not duplicate” keys, restricted keys and other security systems to protect your property from unwanted intruders.