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I was looking for some Torx head fasteners and found some that claim to have "star" heads. They look like Torx heads…

Are they the same?

Has it really been long enough for the Torx patents to run out?

Perhaps that is why there is Torx Plus now.

  • I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure they are the same thing, or rather calling them a "star" head is more of a generic thing than calling it a Torx head screw. A lot easier to remember. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 29 '16 at 19:46
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"Torx" is a trademark, i.e. a name for a company and can be renewed indefinitely. The Torx design used to have a patent that expired in 1990.

After the Torx patent expired, ISO 10664 was created that described the Torx design.

"Torx Plus" is also a trademark. The Torx Plus design was developed to handle more torque and that design is under a patent until 2019.

Today, only the Torx company can use the name Torx, but there are "generics" now which have a physically identical design.

The "generics" typically refer to that design as a star bit or head. The "generic" star should be physically identical to the Torx design.

  • So is "star" the "official" generic name for Torx? Similar to hex for Allen? I assume that the "right" way to say that your head is compatible would be to fit ISO 10664 in there somewhere. Now that I'm looking I notice that fasteners that I assumed were "Torx" actually say "star" – do you know if Torx licenses the use of the name? – dlu Oct 29 '16 at 21:02
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    @dlu - there certainly does seem to be licensing going on. I'm looking at a box of screws of the brand "ForgeFast" which are described on the box as having a "TORX(R) compatible head" with small print below "TORX(R) is a registered trademark of Acument Intellectual Properties LLC", which is how I would expect the box to look after the lawyers hammer out a licensing agreement. – Periata Breatta Oct 29 '16 at 21:05
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    AFAIK anyone can use a trademark in writing, so long as they make it clear that it is a trademark (which was done in the small print). If an ISO standard has been published, any company in the world can make parts that comply with it. At least in the UK, the offense of "passing off goods illegally" means that ForgeFast were trying to pretend their fasteners were really made by AIP LLC, and not by themselves, but the packaging makes it clear they are not doing that. – alephzero Oct 29 '16 at 22:57

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