Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Trademarks and designs con't...


harvey

Recommended Posts

Ok...following on from the Wampler/Vox, EHX/Klon discussions I have a question about guitar designs.

 

Why can a manufacturer absolutely rip off a Strat, LP, Tele (etc etc etc ) design and only have to change the headstock design to avoid trouble?

 

I don't get it?!

 

 

Guitar Speak Podcast

www.guitarspeakpodcast.libsyn.com

https://www.facebook.com/guitarspeakpodcast

www.itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/guitar-speak-podcast

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 25
  • Created
  • Last Reply
I don't get it either. I guess it's like looking at a thousand new cars on the lot, you have to walk up and read the name in order to know who made it...I remember the days when you knew a Ford from a Chevy and what year it was made just by looking at it...
Take care, Larryz
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part of it is that form follows function. There are certain elements of guitar design that would be intrinsically not trademarkable because their form is dictated by physics.

 

Part of it is that the various companies choose what to sue over, and only a few go after anything but the most slavish duplicates.

 

There's also an element of "abandonment." After decades of not trying to enforce trademarks for their body shapes. Their suits to do that lately have not impress the courts; they have not prevailed because they have been deemed to have "abandoned" their trademarkable interests.

 

Here's a good article:

 

http://davidsontm.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/three-chords-and-a-lawsuit-a-brief-history-of-guitars-and-trademarks/

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patent/trademark/copyright is and is likely to remain a hot area of law for the foreseeable future. If I was younger and (a lot) more financially solvent I would go back to school for it.

I mean think about it. You get 5% (or whatever) of Joe suing Fred-nothing to shout about. 5% of Gibson suing PRS, well...

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok...following on from the Wampler/Vox, EHX/Klon discussions I have a question about guitar designs.

 

Why can a manufacturer absolutely rip off a Strat, LP, Tele (etc etc etc ) design and only have to change the headstock design to avoid trouble?

 

I don't get it?!

 

But I've noticed that many of those Strat look-alikes still have similar headstocks. Even many guitars( my old, cheezy Kalamazoo, the Gibson "Trini Lopez")without Strat like bodies have a similar headstock. I suppose if I look real close, there might be a difference of 1/4" of size, or indiscernable curve degree, just enough to escape any suits, I don't know.

 

But in the acoustic world, a Guild "dreadnought" and a Martin's look the same, as does an Alvarez or a Taylor. So, whom should sue whom in that case? Or which maker tried, if one tried at all?

 

Or maybe they're thinking "immitation is the sincerest form of flattery"?

 

Anyway, getting back to what I said earlier, perhaps there's a very subtle difference in dimension specs that makes a suit null and void. Example: A cheap Silvertone with a "Strat-like" shape may be just millimeters shy of an actual Stat copy. I couldn't know for sure, just wildly speculating here...

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whitefang - you should get a look at some old Travis-Bigsby headstocks. There's no question Leo Fender copied their design, but if no one trademarked the design, it's up for grabs.

 

The legal principle DannyA describes is called "Primary Estoppel" (Sp?) - it means that if you don't go after everybody who infringes on your trademark or patent, you lose legal standing. It applies to other trademarked or copyrighted images, as well. If some big-box store wants to put out a line of Jimi Hendrix t-shirts, they'll have to negotiate with the Hendrix family for the right to use Jimi's name & image.

 

That still doesn't explain how or why there are so many 'look-alike' guitars out there, but I imagine it can get exhausting, and expensive, just looking for people to sue.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That still doesn't explain how or why there are so many 'look-alike' guitars out there, but I imagine it can get exhausting, and expensive, just looking for people to sue.

 

Like I said, its one part engineering- there are only so many ways to make a guitar because it has to do its job while strapped to a human- and many of the trademarkable elements were not defended in a timely fashion.

 

With trademark, unlike copyright, you can lose your trademark if you don't defend it. Do an online search for "losing a trademark by inaction" and you'll get a bunch of articles & position papers. And since the pioneers of guitar didn't defend their trademarks early on, they're essentially SOL at this time.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fender, Gibson and others will come after copy-cat shops that try to put out fakes with their logos on them...you can buy all kinds of kits to build your own Strats, Teles, SG's, LP's etc., but it would not be wise to sell or use the logo decals which can also be purchased IMHO.

 

ps. although Gibson doesn't use decals like Fender does, the Chinese make some very good fakes that look just like the real inlays, logos etc., If you're buying a $2,000 Les Paul for $200 bucks, it's most likely a fake or it's hot! LOL.

Take care, Larryz
Link to comment
Share on other sites

...you can buy all kinds of kits to build your own Strats, Teles, SG's, LP's etc., but it would not be wise to sell or use the logo decals which can also be purchased IMHO.

 

There are a few groups devoted to Fender's Squier guitars, particularly the Strat & Tele models, and there's some discussion of how and where to get 'Fender' decals. I've seen photos of Squier Strats, re-loaded with Fender parts and decals, until only an expert could tell which was what.

 

FWIW, you can walk into pretty much any GC, and buy off-the-shelf Fender-logo neckplates, and other parts, and I recently got an email from Fender, advertising Fender necks, complete with decals. These parts, including the necks, will drop right in to many of the Squier models. If you don't think it's worth someone's effort, and investment in parts, to make a bogus 'parts' Strat, used Squier guitars sell for dirt cheap, and it only takes a few cheap parts ($6 Fender neckplate, $20 MIM Fender trem/tailpiece, and a decal) to finish the job. Suddenly, a $50 pawnshop prize is passing as a MIM Strat for $350 on CL. Honestly, it's made me leery of used Fender guitars.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Same here, I'm leery of buying used Fenders. I have only sold a few used Fenders and when I have, original receipts go with them. I save all stock parts on the guitars I have modifications on and they would go with the guitar as well if I sell them.

 

I have a bud that is building a Strat kit as a project and has a Fender logo decal. I don't know if it came with the kit and would be OK to use (but I have never heard of Fender selling such a kit and decal). If he got the decal separately off the net, I advised him that I wouldn't use it. You never know where that guitar would wind up if you sold it and some kid winds up buying it thinking it's a real one...

Take care, Larryz
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whitefang - you should get a look at some old Travis-Bigsby headstocks. There's no question Leo Fender copied their design, but if no one trademarked the design, it's up for grabs.

 

And Bigsby got that design idea from the Croatian Tamburiça family of instruments.

 

I read that Leo Fender patterned the Stratocaster headstock after the profile of an upright bass headstock, which didn't make sense to me because the Telecaster and Precision bass came first and had a similar shape but didn't resemble that source

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could be that Leo patterned ALL Fender headstocks based on that profile. Perhaps the source you read was about Strats and just mentioned that headstock idea and got it counfounded. Never read it anywhere, so I can't say for sure.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can see the scrolled headstock profile of a string bass or violin being the inspiration for the design, somewhere back in time, but just for example's sake -

 

http://www.bigsbyguitars.com/vibe/wp-content/uploads/guitar_headstock_2201.jpg

 

Leo may have rounded it out a bit, but if you saw that headstock from a distance, your first thought probably wouldn't be "Bigsby".

 

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To beat a patent infringement problem all you gotta do is change the shape a small amount, I don't think a trademark is applicable to the shape of a guitar or the neck but a patent might be.

 

The Logo can be trademarked and the shape of the headstock is probably part of the logo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The "lawsuit era" Japanese guitars are called that precisely because their headstocks resembled Gibsons'. That "open book" headstock is one design element Gibson has vigorously- and successfully- defended.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I don't know of any guitar that had a headstock that resembles Gibson's. Some come CLOSE, but no cigar.

 

Of course, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong...

Whitefang

 

Whitefang, do a Google search on Tokai Les Paul, and check out some of those headstocks, especially the ones that say "Les Paul Reborn" with the imitation of Les' signature!!!!

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The "lawsuit era" Japanese guitars are called that precisely because their headstocks resembled Gibsons'. That "open book" headstock is one design element Gibson has vigorously- and successfully- defended.

 

... as applies in America and other countries who will enforce the trademark of the shape, as the above posts point out.

 

In Japan, the names are protected but no shapes or symbols seem to be.

 

In China there seems to be no laws whatsoever against outright forgery, but they've prosecuted people who ship the fakes out of the country to places where it violates the laws.

 

BTW, ever see the fake Apple Stores in China, with all fake Apple products?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regardless of how it happens, I think that it's a good thing. More competition usually means better products.

I think that Gibson is very smart in keeping their headstock from being copied. ESP and Epiphone have similar headstock, but I have always like Gibson's best. It has a more classy look if you ask me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The "lawsuit era" Japanese guitars are called that precisely because their headstocks resembled Gibsons'. That "open book" headstock is one design element Gibson has vigorously- and successfully- defended.

 

... as applies in America and other countries who will enforce the trademark of the shape, as the above posts point out.

 

In Japan, the names are protected but no shapes or symbols seem to be.

 

In China there seems to be no laws whatsoever against outright forgery, but they've prosecuted people who ship the fakes out of the country to places where it violates the laws.

 

BTW, ever see the fake Apple Stores in China, with all fake Apple products?

 

China has some of the most stringent IP protection laws in the planet. It's just that they selectively enforce them to China's advantage.

 

So, fake Apple stores- very impressively done, if you haven't seen one- are mostly fine. So are knockoff Toyotas, etc.

 

But copy/infringe upon a Chinese IP holder's product? They will let slip the dogs of war.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...