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  • Writer's pictureNerd Fox

The Reality of "Do Not Duplicate" Keys

Anyone can affix the phrase "Do Not Duplicate" to a key.

Have you ever received a key that was imprinted with the words "do not duplicate?" Did you feel more at ease? Perhaps you shouldn't have! Anyone can stamp any key with the words "do not duplicate" or something similar. These words by themselves do not prevent a locksmith or hardware store from copying the key, nor do they indicate a higher-quality lock.

Many "Do Not Duplicate" Can Be Copied

There is no legal prohibition against writing "do not duplicate" on common keys. Therefore, don't presume that hardware stores or locksmiths can't or won't make copies of those keys. Because some manufacturers limit their keys to stop unauthorized reproductions, it can be perplexing. However, you must be certain that your key falls under that heading. The phrase "do not duplicate" does not indicate a real key control system if it is not.

So why is the key marked "Do Not Duplicate"?

To prevent unwanted replication, some people write "Do Not Duplicate" or "Do Not Copy" on their keys. It serves as a warning to locksmiths that making unauthorized duplicates of these keys could be dangerous. They wish to prevent unauthorized individuals from making copies since they lack locks with true key controls. Unfortunately, it's not really effective.

Many people will attempt to copy keys that have a warning label on them. Additionally, while some locksmiths or hardware stores may refuse to duplicate these keys, there are many others that will, making this a fruitless technique of key management. Additionally, it deceives the many customers. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) has stated the following since it is so true:

"Orders for keys including the phrase "Do Not Duplicate" or words to that effect will be treated in the same way as requests for unrestricted keys. ALOA members should explain to customers that using keys with the words "Do Not Duplicate" or other similar phrasing is not a reliable type of protection and that it is also misleading because it gives the customer a false sense of security. Instead than relying on a "Do Not Duplicate" label, customers who want adequate protection should buy a proprietary key control system. Keys that are legally protected are not affected by this."

How do Restricted Keys work?

Some manufacturers do make an effort to limit the number of people who copy their keys. These keys have particular, distinctive design elements, and the key blanks are not widely accessible. Additionally, some of these keys can only be copied using specialized, proprietary equipment. There are three fundamental degrees of control, and each one provides a little bit more security.

Keys with Lower Level Restriction

Key blank distribution is limited to authorized merchants at the first level. These dealers and the lock makers are bound by agreements that specify the requirements for key duplication. For instance, when dealers sell locks, certain manufacturers mandate that they maintain signature files. Owners who require additional keys must return to that dealer and provide identification documentation. Other producers provide out signed authorisation cards to bind customers. To obtain further keys, they must display the cards. The foundation of the entire system is restricting access to the resources needed to replicate the key. Therefore, it is neither illegal nor difficult to produce a replica if an unauthorized individual obtains a key blank.

Restricted Keys of the Middle Level

In order to reach the second level, key blanks must only be given to approved dealers. However, at this level, utility patents or other intellectual property (IP) rights are used to protect the important designs. As with any patent, the key blanks may only be produced or copied by the patent holder. The maximum fine for copying these keys without authorization is $10,000. To receive key copies at this level, one must further present identification documentation.

More Advanced Restricted Keys

The third and highest level limits key duplication to a single location, such as the factory of the lock company. Key blanks are not sent out by the company, and copies are closely monitored. To obtain a duplicate key, you must speak with the lock manufacturer directly and provide identification. The manufacturer keeps records of lock ownership. Also subject to the $10,000 penalties are those who manufacture unauthorized copies.

Naturally, nothing has a perfect success rate. By making it far more difficult to duplicate the key, restricted keys that have real controls in place to check duplication do serve as an effective security solution. That only applies to keys that are actually restricted. It's crucial to keep in mind that the protection offered by a restricted key comes from the security mechanisms put in place to prevent it from being copied, not from the words "do not copy."

Better Locks Come With Restricted Keys

One advantage of manufacturer-restricted keys is that they only come with better locks. As a result, you are not only getting additional protection against unauthorized key copies. With a higher-quality lock, you also get more security at the door. All of this security comes at a cost, but considering that your home or business houses important people or valuable possessions, it is a small price to pay.

Everyone's circumstances and needs are unique, and it can be difficult to determine what level of lock and key control is appropriate for your situation. Before making any decisions or investing any money, it is a good idea to consult with one of our Lock Nerds Locksmith professionals. This will help ensure that you get all of the security you require!

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Ferenc Davies
Ferenc Davies
Feb 21

The specialists from Emergency Locksmith Temecula company were prompt, courteous, and extremely knowledgeable about security measures. They carefully assessed our needs and recommended the perfect locks for our home. The installation process was quick and flawless.


Christian Johnson
Christian Johnson
Jan 12

Impressed with the duplicate key service from Locksmith Gastonia NC company. The staff was friendly, and the key they provided was an exact match to the original. Quick, efficient, and reasonably priced.

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