Here's what I learned, directly from the United States Copyright Office:
"Copyright protection extends to a description, explanation, or illustration of an idea or system, assuming that the requirements of the copyright law are met. Copyright in such a case protects the particular literary or pictoral expression chosen by the author. However, it gives the copyright owner no exclusive rights in the idea, method, or system involved.
Suppose, for example, that an author writes a book explaining a new system for food processing. The copyright in the book, which comes into effect at the moment the work is fexied in a tangible form, will prevent others from publishing the text and illustrations describing the author's ideas for machinery, processes, and merchandising methods. But it will not give the author any rights to prevent others from adopting the ideas for commercial purposes or from developing or using the machinery, processes, or methods described in the book."
When people say you can not use their pattern to sell your own creations, they are wrong, according to the government. If they don't want you to make and sell anything from their pattern, they should keep it for themselves. That's what the big designers do.
Hope this helps clear the water...Check out the government site for yourself at the link above or go to http://www.copyright.gov