I think though, that putting the scans out thee would have to be fee, otherwise you’d have creators competing with whoever was selling the blank packs.
Perhaps, but demand for blank cards wouldn’t have to diminish due to custom creators.
you could have custom designed ships become part of the official game
Indeed, but I see this as an “anything goes” sort of alternative game idea. I wouldn’t want Wizkids or any other company to only choose certain customs to be “approved” or “official”; players would simply decide if a game would have customs or not. Before the game started they could decide amongst themselves if any customs brought to the game were too unfair to use.
I think it would be fine to have sort of “open season” in regards to what’s allowed and what’s not, especially since that would encourage playtesting. I wouldn’t want to wait for the company endorsing the cards to make something official, and as we saw with even the F&S stuff, they might just neuter the originals anyway. (making them more boring)
Therefore it does bear researching what exactly the patent is.
As you know, I’ve done that, but it’s extremely hard to find information that is concrete and useful.