• The Gear Page Apparel & Merch Shop is Open!

    Based on member demand, The Gear Page is pleased to announce that our Apparel Merch Shop is now open. The shop’s link is in the blue Navigation bar (on the right side), “Shop,” with t-shirts, hats, neck buffs, and stickers to start. Here’s the direct link: www.thegearpageshop.com

    You’ll find exclusive high-quality apparel and merchandise; all items are ethical, sustainably produced, and we will be continuously sourcing and adding new choices. 

    We can ship internationally. All shipping is at cost.


So....if I design my own guitar..........

RvChevron

Member
Messages
2,465
The Fender trademark thread has got me thinking.

Say....if I design a guitar with my own body shape, headstock shape, and construction method, pretty much the whole nine yards except the bridge and machine heads and screws.

Have it made by someone else from scatch.

Some big shot rock star sees it and likes it and ask the builder to build one.

They proceed without my permission.

The said guitar then become a hit because of the rock star.

The builder than gets famous and tons of back orders, made a lot of coins because now the price is 10 times more than what it once costed.

Some other manufacturers and builders start making clones/copies of my design and make a lot of money.

And I being the original designer of the guitar got nothing.

What to do??? What should've been done?

:knitting
 

Pfeister

Member
Messages
1,586
There's really nothing you can do without a copywrite and you can't get one for a body shape. You just have to make the guitar better than that builder can.

Personally, I think it's a fair system. It keeps competition strong when everyone has to deal with the same issue like that.
 

Voodoo Blues

Member
Messages
1,483
Personally, I think it's a fair system. It keeps competition strong when everyone has to deal with the same issue like that.
But it kills originality. 50 years from now people will still be talking about Fender and Gibson but noone will remember who made knock-offs.
 

Flinto2002

Senior Member
Messages
2,030
You may indeed be able to get a copyright on a body shape. Fender could not, because those shapes had been in the public domain for 50 years. I'm not certain, but I imagine you could get a copyright on an original shape, before you went to market with it.

Though as we all know, there are only so many permutations of body shape that still work ergonomically, while being significantly different enough to warrant a copyright.

For example, you couldn't copyright a dinky style body, cause is so similar to a strat already...but who knows, maybe a guy like Klein could have gotten a copyright on his shape had he wanted.
 

RvChevron

Member
Messages
2,465
You may indeed be able to get a copyright on a body shape. Fender could not, because those shapes had been in the public domain for 50 years. I'm not certain, but I imagine you could get a copyright on an original shape, before you went to market with it.

Though as we all know, there are only so many permutations of body shape that still work ergonomically, while being significantly different enough to warrant a copyright.

For example, you couldn't copyright a dinky style body, cause is so similar to a strat already...but who knows, maybe a guy like Klein could have gotten a copyright on his shape had he wanted.
Who would be the one to judge if my design is original enough?

Some non-guitar player government bureaucrats?:cry:

And does it have to be so radical like Klein?
 

Pfeister

Member
Messages
1,586
But it kills originality. 50 years from now people will still be talking about Fender and Gibson but noone will remember who made knock-offs.
That's very true.
I actually really don't like the knock-offs. What I meant by it improves competition is that builders are required to make their instruments better.

I'm an art school grad, so I'm all about creativity. The guys that make knock-offs will only be known for making knock-offs. You get what you put into it. If someone is copying your design, you just need to make the instrument better. Chances are, if they're just copying, they aren't going to have the smarts to keep up with you. That's what I meant by it improves competition.

Note: I'm not knocking anybody that makes relics, etc.(Relics actually take a lot of skill to make.). I'm all about competition, but I have nothing but respect for other luthiers.:BEER
I'm referring to people who are just trying to ride the coattails of others. I'm not putting them down, I'm just stating that they tend to not get too far.
 

Voodoo Blues

Member
Messages
1,483
What I meant by it improves competition is that builders are required to make their instruments better.
I agee, we all know there are builders making strat copies that are just as good if not better than a Fender, and they have too if they want to succeed as a business. While these builders have earned a great reputation they will never get the legendary status as Leo or Les simply because they were afraid to think outside the box.
 

clemduolian

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,419
If you want an accurate answer to the questions you raise, it will require legal analysis and advice which shouldn't be given or received on a guitar/musician forum (and, generally, free legal advice is worth what you pay for it:AOK). It involves copyright and other intellectual property issues (patent & trademark), as well as contract and other legal issues. Since your address is outside the U.S. there are a host of "what is the applicable law" issues, and most importantly, there are the numerous practical, financial business issues to consider (what do you want to achieve; how have you been damaged; what is the best way to spend/invest your resources (time, money, energy), etc.

If you have a design and a desire to protect and commercially exploit it, you should get a list of questions together and make an appointment with a qualified attorney. You might consider doing some on-line research first BUT its hard to research and get answers if you don't know the questions an potential issues.

Good luck.
 

RvChevron

Member
Messages
2,465
If you want an accurate answer to the questions you raise, it will require legal analysis and advice which shouldn't be given or received on a guitar/musician forum (and, generally, free legal advice is worth what you pay for it:AOK). It involves copyright and other intellectual property issues (patent & trademark), as well as contract and other legal issues. Since your address is outside the U.S. there are a host of "what is the applicable law" issues, and most importantly, there are the numerous practical, financial business issues to consider (what do you want to achieve; how have you been damaged; what is the best way to spend/invest your resources (time, money, energy), etc.

If you have a design and a desire to protect and commercially exploit it, you should get a list of questions together and make an appointment with a qualified attorney. You might consider doing some on-line research first BUT its hard to research and get answers if you don't know the questions an potential issues.

Good luck.
Good advice. Thanks.
 

noisemaker

Senior Member
Messages
428
you DEMAND that the builder accepts you as the original designer and go to court and get a license for the body that will cost a lot of money but then the money will fly in when ever someone builds a guitar like that
 

stevieboy

Clouds yell at me
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,839
You should of course follow clemduolian's advice and get proper legal help. But it can't hurt to get a little info and understanding on your own as well so you have an idea what you might be getting into ahead of time. One thing you can look into just to educate yourself is that copyright and trademark are two different things. (Links of course are specific to US law.) The Fender case is about trademark not copyright.
 

thesedaze

Member
Messages
1,682
With any type of musical equipment, I've found that any builder with integrity is more likely to happily build you something using the existing elements of their own designs, rather than something from scratch that you designed with no prior build experience. They have put countless hours in developing their goods, not to mention countless hours of modifications to shapes, sizes, wood types, etc. I would honestly be a bit apprehensive if a builder was gung-ho about taking a complete one off design from me. If you're going to select a builder, chances are you will select them for a similar taste in body shape, wood choice, etc. Why not just use the elements they already have, and they would be more willing to work with your project.

I'm not sure if he had already had made a one-off short cab or not, but I remember taking a photo of Siegmund's long Midnight Blues head cabinet, shortening it in photoshop, powder coated & screened the chassis, changed the knobs, grill & tolex, and handle. I used the same handle style that he already was using, but chose a different color. With the internals, I chose to have the v1 position a 6SL7 octal tube...knowing that he already had built an amp line (Midnight Special) with octal preamp tubes.

Point being, I didn't request that he go out of his way (or mind), and any ideas I had that were a bit lofty, he was kind enough to steer me in the right direction that would both expedite production time, and fit the mold of his existing line of amps.

If you want to develop a brand new shape, I recommend just having Warmoth's custom shop cut you a body blank in that style...piece it together w/ some relatively inexpensive parts...see how the balance is, then look into marketing it.
 

David Myka

Member
Messages
549
This is a tricky issue. I agree with clemduolian's advice.

If you can't get a patent on your design, or can't afford one, then you will need to work out with your guitar maker who owns what if you decide to collaborate on the design. I have three ways of looking at this now:

1. If my client provides me with the entire design then they own it.
2. If I interpret their ideas and design it myself then I own it.
3. If we both co-design then it is a collaboration and we both own it.

I will personally honor #1 without a patent but if they want to legally protect themselves it is up to them to patent, copyright, or otherwise protect their design. I generally don't patent anything but I do document everything I create so I could oppose a patent if there was one filed that would limit my ability to continue my work.

Collaborations could be tricky but if my part is only the engineering and construction then I have no claim unless the engineering is the design. I worked on a collaboration that started with a very original body shape supplied by my client. We both put into the design. We made a deal where I could build more if I pay him a license fee per guitar built. There is no patent and no real way to ultimately protect the design but we have a deal that we both honor. If the guitar becomes extremely popular he gets his fee every time and I get paid for my work. It's a good deal that benefits us both as the design is very good.

I would get a non-disclosure agreement upfront from any builder that you wish to discuss your project with. But I would also be open to the possibility that your design may not be as unique as you think. If you know that it is then great, patent it. But I, like many creative types, have notebooks filled with designs that I just don't have the time to build.

To illustrate this: I had one person ask me to design something for them that they would then own. All he had were ideas and nothing documented or drawn up. After briefly discussing the design I showed him a picture of a guitar I sketched out at least 6 months prior that was the same idea.

This is why you need to patent your ideas first. Then this stuff won't be a problem.

But as far as your original question goes it really depends on the builder and whether they would honor your ideas or not.

~David
 

Husky

Member
Messages
12,072
You should draw up a contract meaning that you will have to pay for all tooling involved and it is your property. If it is built by a company with CNC's that need programing you are probably easily looking at $20k or so for all tooling and programing.

If you are talking about a guy with pin routers and hard board templates you should still have a written agreement that you are paying for tooling and manufacturing.

Of course that doesn't stop anyone else from copying you unless you have design patents or trademarks, an expensive part of being a manufacturer. At this point you have to have the confidence that the superior quality and value/price of your guitar would make it useless for anyone to copy and compete at the same price point. I believe that most guitars are chosen because of their playability, tone and charm. No player is going to buy a guitar that has a unique new look but doesn't play or sound great. In other words, guitar building is an art-form and not easily copied without experience and expertise in the field.
You have to be a great painter to copy a great painting and at that point unless you are offering something not available in the original there would be no market.
 
Last edited:

Husky

Member
Messages
12,072
Who would be the one to judge if my design is original enough?

Some non-guitar player government bureaucrats?:cry:

And does it have to be so radical like Klein?
The Patent office and it is up to other people to contest it if they see it.
If you get a trademark on a body shape it would have to be a shape that everyone identifies as being yours and is used as your trademark or has to have some new functionality never thought of before for a patent. For instance you cant patent the schematic of an amp unless you have figured out a way to do something nobody has ever thought about before.

Changing a double cutaway offset contour body by an inch or 2 here or there still falls into the generic category and even though you could own the trademark people could still challenge you. Trust me.... it gets very expensive. If you make the best product possible, take care of business and your customers then that is the best amo for keeping people from borrowing you ideas. Nobody wants to play a replica or copy unless they dont find what they are looking for in the original.
 

JimmyR

Member
Messages
3,790
As others have said, copyright and trademarks are two completely separate things. You don't "get" a copyright, it is automatic, depending on your country's laws. Many countries are signatories of the international copyright laws, which means that as soon as you make/design/build something original then you are covered by copyright. If you write an original song it is automatically covered by copyright. You don't have to pay anyone ort register anything.

BUT - the problem arises when someone else goes public with something similar and you suspect that they may have infringed on your copyright. It is up to you to prove that (a) you were first, (b) they have seen/been influenced by your design or whatever, and (c) it is significantly different from everything that has come before.

One way of protecting yourself is to draw your design up, write your song down, take pictures of your project, date them all and put them in a bank deposit box which is datable. You need to be able to prove that you did something at or before the appropriate date. BTW putting a little "c" in a circle is fine when you publish things but it won't stop people from stealing ideas!

Trademarks are a whole different thing. You need to register those, prove they are unique and spend lots of money!
 

Husky

Member
Messages
12,072
One way of protecting yourself is to draw your design up, write your song down, take pictures of your project, date them all and put them in a bank deposit box which is datable. You need to be able to prove that you did something at or before the appropriate date. BTW putting a little "c" in a circle is fine when you publish things but it won't stop people from stealing ideas!

Trademarks are a whole different thing. You need to register those, prove they are unique and spend lots of money!

Bill Lawrence would get local newspapers to do an article on his new ideas.
Hard to argue with the timeline when that happens :dude
 

RvChevron

Member
Messages
2,465
I worked on a collaboration that started with a very original body shape supplied by my client. We both put into the design. We made a deal where I could build more if I pay him a license fee per guitar built. There is no patent and no real way to ultimately protect the design but we have a deal that we both honor. If the guitar becomes extremely popular he gets his fee every time and I get paid for my work. It's a good deal that benefits us both as the design is very good.

~David
That is closer to what I have in mind. Thanks David.
 




Trending Topics

Top