Designed a guitar, now I'm going to protect it

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by BeeTL, May 13, 2009.

  1. Brion

    Brion Supporting Member

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    My first thought as well.
     
  2. burningyen

    burningyen Member

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    What does your attorney think about the Ruokangas and Caliber headstocks?
     
  3. Furrymonki

    Furrymonki Member

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    My thoughts exactly!
     
  4. choucas09

    choucas09 Member

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    Sorry mate, but I can't see the point in all this.
     
  5. chucke99

    chucke99 Member

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    That's just not true. You can publish copyrighted materials without losing that protection. Same for patentable stuff. Of course, posting it then waiting two years to get a patent may not be a good idea.
     
  6. dspellman

    dspellman Member

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    Neither a patent nor a trademark should be granted for your designs, sorry. I realize there's every possibility that you'll get both (both the patent system and the trademark system in this country are broken), but should they be challenged, there's enough prior art that it's likely your attempt to protect them will only cost you money and will not result in the outcome you're hoping for.

    I've been involved in intellectual property law long enough to tell you to get an IP lawyer (and NOT a general practitioner) who's actually litigated some of these cases (as opposed to written cease and desist letters). If you get a good one, there's no more likelihood that you'll win a case with your designs as they are, but he may be open and honest about what the costs are in defending your intellectual property through the entire process necessary to carry a case through court and subsequent appeal. In short, there's virtually no way for you to make enough money building/marketing guitars with that shape and headstock shape to pay for the process. Gibson's fees in their misbegotten attempt to lock down the single-cut body shape were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and their lawyers were so stupid that PRS simply pointed out that Gibson's own witness' testimony proved PRS' case. The judge agreed.

    In fact, there's every chance that as soon as you publish a photo of a new guitar and begin advertising it for sale, you'll get a cease and desist letter from someone else who's been producing (or planning to produce) the same design.
     
  7. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    This seems like a good way to spend a lot of money preventing something that has already happened.
     
  8. BeeTL

    BeeTL Silver Supporting Member Vendor

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    :D
    +1
    :)
    Maybe down the line...
    Understood.
    ;)
    I can't speak for him.
    Fair enough.
    A patent has been off the table since 2009.
    We'll see how that goes, and yes, my attorney is an experienced IP specialist.

    I am following the industry's best practices as established by some of the companies you reference.
    There are certainly many that agree with you.
     
  9. jemke

    jemke Member

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    In this case, there is no protection at this point, even not pending protection, so imo it remains valid?
     
  10. BeeTL

    BeeTL Silver Supporting Member Vendor

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    I'm applying to register a trademark in the US:

    http://www.uspto.gov/faq/trademarks.jsp
     
  11. robertkoa

    robertkoa Member

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    Not a Lawyer but a Trademark is sometimes a stronger protection than a Patent, meaning much more specific.

    For Example we have Coca Cola ansd Pepsi and bunches of other Colas that are almost indistinguishable formulas , but NO ONE can use the name Coke , or Pepsi etc. once trademarked and the SHAPE itself may be able to be Trademarked, which is even better as well as the name, for your instruments.
     
  12. supa-fuzz

    supa-fuzz Member

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    Anyone mention that in addition to the Albert Lee model, it also looks like the Dipinto Galaxie
     
  13. adrinalino

    adrinalino Member

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    Let me have a guess... Your guitar has a bridge, a nut, 6 strings, 21 to 24 frets, 2 or three pickups, a body and a neck.
    These things have all been designed by other people and they didn't bother to protect their intellectual property so you can build your guitar without anyone hassling you.
    Did you really spend years of development and loads of money to get to this headstock and body? If not, don't bother and use your energy to make better guitars.
    I made this guitar and I guess there is no other like it but I prefer to concentrate on building good gear rather than preventing other people to copy it.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Good luck,

    Adrian.
     
  14. apalazzolo

    apalazzolo Supporting Member

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    Yes ...
    I often enjoy your posts dspellman, but have to respectfully disagree here. First, you imply that one must litigate to the end to possibly get value out of IP. Then you immediately indicate that an inexpensive cease and desist letter alone might drive this guy from the market. I submit that the latter position contradicts your former position and shows that inexpensive enforcement can be had. I agree with your latter position.

    Also, please note that, in the Gibson/PRS case, the trial judge found in favor of Gibson in virtually EVERY way. It was only AFTER the case went to appeal that a three judge panel agreed with PRS in they way you explained. Isn't that crazy. Plaintiff scores resounding victory at trial and defendant wins an equal victory on appeal. BUT, Gibson DID have effective enforcement for a while and may have profited more than their attorneys fee while PRS was enjoined from selling singlecuts.

    BeeTL ... good for you, you seem pretty well informed. I hope it works out well for you.

    I have practiced IP law for 15 years, I've represented musical instrument manufacturers with about 70 trademark registrations over the last 10 years. We occasionally have to use these to stave off copyists. They can work. You should also ask your attorney about copyright protection for your headstocks. You can probably do this yourself and it is VERY inexpensive.

    One final thing: I hope you have used the headstock on some guitars actually moving through interstate commerce. If not, you can get caught between a catch 22 regarding product-configurations on the supplemental register with intent-to-use applications. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  15. jamdogg

    jamdogg Member

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    Not a bad tele rip.
     
  16. treeofpain

    treeofpain Silver Supporting Member

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    Reading through this thread, it seems that the OP is now filing for a trademark on the headstock shape only. No patent on anything and no trademark on the body shape itself.

    If he can show that the design of the headstock is not substantially similar to "prior art", then he should be able to get his trademark. Then he is on the hook to protect it if he wants to keep it - by regularly using the trademark in interstate commerce and vigorously defending it against potential infringers.

    Only the originator of the design can decide if it is "worth it" to go through the registration process and to subsequently defend the trademark, if granted. Everyone else's opinion is pretty much irrelevant, right?
     
  17. PixMix

    PixMix Member

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    Protect what from who? Getting a friendly tap on the back in an online forum is very different from actually designing something that is going to be desired in a market.
    No hard feelings, but I thing the op has some really "overly simplified" ideas on how art and design work.
     
  18. Trebor Renkluaf

    Trebor Renkluaf I was hit by a parked car, what's your excuse? Silver Supporting Member

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  19. BeeTL

    BeeTL Silver Supporting Member Vendor

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    Nice summary.
    I think the Electra 610 is closest, myself.
    Just curious...did you learn anything new about patents and trademarks after reading the links I posted? If not, I feel you've missed my intent in posting this thread.
    I have sold several guitars across state and national lines and have documented such with my attorney.
    Thank you!

    Hopefully I will be in a position to do some of my own metal fab soon and will not need to rely so heavily on "parts at hand".
    Precisely, and some folks may learn a thing or two on my dime...not a bad way to give back to the larger guitar building community IMHO.
    I think if you read each post I've made, you'll see my approach is far from simple.
    As far as I can tell, Fender has only ever attempted to Trademark their body and headstock profiles, and the details of how they lost Trademark status on the Strat Tele, and P shapes are detailed in posts 10 and 33 above.

    One could argue that allowing a healthy aftermarket of mod and replacement parts has enabled the Fender brand to flourish where others have failed.

    Also, a quick search on TESS leads me to believe that Fender has never registered the Jazzmaster shape with the USPTO.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  20. Manchu

    Manchu Member

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    Luv that headstock, bro. More refined look than any of the other "bottle openers" I've seen thus far. Do you have any necks available for sale?
     

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