Key blank

Key blank

A key blank (sometimes spelled keyblank) is a key that has not been cut to a specific bitting. The blank has a specific cross-sectional profile to match the keyway in a corresponding lock cylinder. Key blanks can be stamped with a manufacturer name, end-user logo or with a phrase, the most commonly seen being 'Do not duplicate'. Blanks are typically stocked by locksmiths for duplicating keys. The profile of the key bow, or the large, flat end, often references an individual manufacturer.

Laws in the United States

Despite common belief, keys stamped with "Do not duplicate" or "It is unlawful to duplicate this key" are, with few exceptions, perfectly legal to duplicate. Some key blank manufacturers, such as Best Access Systems, strictly restrict the sale of their own blanks. However, while the company may not sell them directly, a consumer has every right to obtain blanks from a third-party manufacturer. Some blanks are made only in small volumes and are not widely available, but are not legally restricted. It is legal to fabricate such a blank on a CNC milling machine.

ALOA, an internationally recognized association for locksmiths, also considers such stamps an empty threat. [ link ALOA TECHNICAL STANDARDS]

Federal law regulates the duplication/fabrication of keys for use with locks owned by the US Postal Service and the US Military.

There are a few states that impose some restriction at the state level. California prohibits the duplication of keys for properties owned/operated/leased/under the control of any state agency, not limited to CA. Arizona has a similar prohibition, but the limitation only applies to keys to State of Arizona facilities.

tate of California, penal code 469

tate of Arizona

13-3715. Unauthorized manufacture, duplication, use or possession of key to a public building classification.

A. A person who knowingly causes to be manufactured or duplicated or who possesses or uses a key to any building or other area owned, operated or controlled by this state or any agency, board, commission, institution or political subdivision of this state without authorization from the person, or his designated representative, in charge of such building or area is guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor.

B. A person who manufactures or duplicates a key for himself or another to any building or other area owned, operated or controlled by this state or any agency, board, commission, institution or political subdivision of this state, with knowledge that he or the person requesting the manufacturing or duplication of such key does not have authorization from the person or his designated representative in charge of such building or area, is guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor.

tate of Kentucky

KRS 164.337. Duplication of university keys prohibited.


Some localities may have even more stringent regulations. Los Angeles County has an ordinance prohibiting the duplication of any keys stamped with "Do not duplicate".

There is no implication of legal penalty, unless the key is restricted under one of the criteria above.

If one duplicates a key not legally covered under the above criteria, but is encumbered by patents valid at the time of duplication, it is a civil matter. Patented key blanks normally reference a patent number and are encumbered by patent laws from unauthorized duplication of the patented features. However, if the patent is expired, one may duplicate the key.

There are organizations and universities that claim their keys are prohibited by law from duplication, but in the absence of a specific law, such as those found in California and Arizona, the practice is not necessarily illegal. However, if one signs a non-duplication agreement when issued a key and subsequently makes a duplicate, one maybe held civilly liable for a breach of contract.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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