So what actually happens when the Fender lawyers come a-knockin?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Strung Up, Feb 19, 2006.


  1. Strung Up

    Strung Up Member

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    We've seen countless reference to the hidden threat when Fender lawyers are sic'ed on small luthiers. Are they bringing:
    Cease and desists on all production?
    Cease and desists on headstocks?
    Threat of licensing charges on units sold with trademarked elements?
    Eye of newt, wing of bat?

    Just curious (and empathetic to artisans trying to do business).
     
  2. 57special

    57special Silver Supporting Member

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    I don't have an answer, but they are quite vigilant. The Guitar Clinic up in Canada made some very nice burst copies (about two dozen) in the early 90's, and had Gibson on their doorstep in no time.
     
  3. Fantom1

    Fantom1 Member

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    From what I gathered from the local small builder they got a cease and desist on the headstocks (even the ones already made were destroyed :( ), and an implicit that they might start going after the body shapes, making it better to stay on the safe side of their lawyers.
     
  4. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    Except they can't go after the body shapes, the headstock is the only one they have legal copyright to, they've left it too long to start suing people over body shape, it's virtually public domain now.
     
  5. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    Whether they have a legal right to the body shape or not, they've got more (and more expensive) lawyers and deeper pockets than small builders. Sometimes that's how it works.

    --chiba
     
  6. Jim

    Jim Member

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    Chiba is right. You can be sued for anything no matter how ridiculous and be forced to spend a fortune on legal fees way before you get an opportunity to present your defense to a judge. That is how they intimidate. Even though the body shape is in the public domain, a can never the less be sued for copyright infringement.

    Jim
     
  7. billybob77036

    billybob77036 Member

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    Things like that make me want to NEVER own another Fender product. They want people to stop because they are being out done at their own game. Step up and make something so that people will what your product instead of taking the chicken S*** way out and sending black suits after the guys.

    Flame me all you want.
     
  8. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    Oh, I don't know why anyone would care to spend a second flaming someone else for his own personal decision on what guitar brands to buy or not buy.

    Anyone can sell necks with Fender-style headstocks if you contract with Fender for a license. That's how it works in the U.S. when you want to profit off of someone else's intellectual property.

    http://www.warmoth.com/guitar/necks/fender_lic.pdf

    Now back to my '52 RI. ;)
     
  9. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    I don't think it is a slam-dunk sure thing that Fender won't be able to trademark their body shapes. The Luthiers who have developed and marketed their own body shapes are likely going to be way ahead of the game in the near future, imho.
     
  10. Fantom1

    Fantom1 Member

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    yup.
     
  11. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    Don't be too upset - big companies have been doing this to small companies since the lawyer was invented. It's not a new practice, nor does Fender have a lock on this kind of behavior!

    --chiba

    PS BTW, not a knock on lawyers. A couple of my favorite people are lawyers!!!
     
  12. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    :eek:

    :D
     
  13. GeetarGoul

    GeetarGoul Member

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    Fender told Lentz that he was "confusing" the public with his copies. :BOUNCE
     
  14. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    mmmm hmmmm, yes indeed the public was getting confused thinking that it was possible to buy a Fender style guitar that was better than anything "Fender" had put out in 40 years. Silly public... :AOK
     
  15. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    Some people here just might sing a different tune if it were your trademark or copyright someone else was copying ... uh ... I mean doing better than anything you had put out.

    Seriously, I'm weepy for Lentz, the poor guy had to actually go out and design something original for his new body shape.*

    * Did a damn good job of it, too. :)
     
  16. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    Actually, he only had to design a new headstock shape... He moved ahead of the curve (imho) by designing a whole new body shape, too. If Fender manages to trademark their body shapes, a large portion of the boutique guitar industry is going to be left scrambling.
     
  17. John C

    John C Supporting Member

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    Fender did apply for a trademark on the Strat, Tele, P-bass and J-bass body shapes back in 2004. However, some small builders (including Tom Anderson, John Suhr, Gerard Melancon) and some parts suppliers (including WD) banded together to retain legal defense to fight the application. I believe the case is still in court.

    Of course, I don't know how the outcome of the PRS Singlecut/Gibson lawsuit will impact this attempt. Fender may not believe it's worth it, since PRS won on appeal (and I don't know if Gibson has - or even can - appeal the appeal).
     
  18. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    I agree, that would be a bigtime worry. It would signal an end to this particular "Golden Era" of guitar building (at least for awhile).
     
  19. Crazyquilt

    Crazyquilt Guitar Dad Silver Supporting Member

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    One could argue, and I imagine our esteemed colleague, Mr Silberman, would argue, that doing so would only drive further innovation, both functional and aesthetic, resulting in a more robust golden age which prospers under its own terms, and not so fully under the shadow of the past.
     
  20. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    Well that is a logical argument, and it is likely conclusion, too, if Fender ever did get further trademarks beyond body and headstock... I shudder, though, at the thought of having only Fender as an option for buying a new guitar with a Telecaster bridge and Telecaster bridge pickup.
     

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