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Thread: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

  1. #626

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    Then there the story according to Les Paul:

    https://www.vintageguitar.com/2908/les-paul/

    I wasn't there and it doesn't matter to me, but I'd give Les Paul's account a bit more weight.
    I wasn't there either but I'm afraid this isn't a chicken and egg scenario; the LP came long after The App and is a derivative of the earlier guitar Gibson was shown; a solid-bodied, arched-top wooden electric guitar of a specific body shape. Les mentions he and others at Gibson worked on the design of the LP guitar. Considering the letter Appleton got from Gibson, it's fair to consider those others were among the ones presented The App for consideration in 1943.
    - A quote from the letter: "Well, App, you see our competition (Fender) has finally forced us to come out with your solid guitar. Sure wish we had listened to you back in 1943." Included with the letter was a brochure for the new Gibson Les Paul Model.

    The SG, Explorer, V...I can give Gibson those (well, the Gibson engineers) without any reservation but knowing the story of The App there is no doubt in my mind it was an inspiration for the LP design and simple comparison shows it's derivation of The App.

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  3. #627
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfboy View Post
    And hideous ones at that.
    Ugh, no kidding. Not just tacky colors, but painting the headstock to match the body? That can work with a unique enough design, but on a Strat copy it just looks awful.

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  5. #628

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Hermann Winchester View Post
    Gibson proudly displaying their original instruments at this years Summer NAMM

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    That is freaking hilarious.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Ugh, no kidding. Not just tacky colors, but painting the headstock to match the body? That can work with a unique enough design, but on a Strat copy it just looks awful.
    Obvious infringement on Fender's trade dress, to follow Gibson's logic. In that row, there are only two "Gibson" shapes, the rest are all Jackson or Fender shapes.

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  7. #629

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Apples marketing plan in the late 80s:

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  9. #630

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    Here's Sister Rosetta Tharpe playing a 52 and then a SG LP.
    Looks like gospel music pays better than I thought..........Les Pauls, SGs. etc........

  10. #631

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by atsunrise View Post
    Apple's marketing plan in the late '80s:

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    Late '90s, actually. "Bondi Blue" iMac (middle pic) came out in 1998, fruit colors (top pic) were announced in early 1999 (more info here). But that minor detail aside, I see your point! (I avoided the whole iMac thing - my Macs at the time were plain ol' beige giant behemoths that, with their extra cooling fans and extra hard drives, sounding like mini vacuum cleaners... I kept that last great old workhorse beige Mac for many many years (hey, it still worked, why get rid of it?) before finally switching over to Linux and then Windows. Never did buy an iMac, just didn't appeal to me, certainly not brightly colored ones. Wouldn't want bright-colored guitar pegheads either, makes the guitar look like a toy.)
    Last edited by JL277z; Jul-20-2019 at 8:13am.

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  12. #632

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I believe, those colorful "strats" are Kramers, a company Gibson has owned since the late 90's....

  13. #633
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    I believe, those colorful "strats" are Kramers, a company Gibson has owned since the late 90's....
    That's as may be; they're still "counterfeit" Strats if Dean V's are "counterfeit" Gibsons.

    (Which of course is to say they're not - just seems like Gibson is doing exactly what they accuse Dean and others of doing.)

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  15. #634

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfboy View Post
    That's as may be; they're still "counterfeit" Strats if Dean V's are "counterfeit" Gibsons.

    (Which of course is to say they're not - just seems like Gibson is doing exactly what they accuse Dean and others of doing.)
    IIRC Fender lost its claims to the stratocaster body shape last go around and it's now technically considered "generic." If that's so, Gibson [and everyone else] is well within their rights to make as many as they wish even without a claim via Kramer. I don't believe the IP at issue with Dean has been tested in court yet.

    I believe the recent round started with Gibson asserting their rights [aka policing their marks]. That received significant marketplace push-back causing Gibson to pull back.

    What I find very curious in all this is that the primary argument I've seen thus far is that Gibson is being heavy-handed. At the same time I've read many suggest it's because Gibson doesn't police their properties [i.e. hasn't been heavy-handed enough] as justification for others appropriating them, yet when they do they are met with a huge backlash from the market.

    A very odd situation.
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  16. #635

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    ......What I find very curious in all this is that the primary argument I've seen thus far is that Gibson is being heavy-handed. At the same time I've read many suggest it's because Gibson doesn't police their properties [i.e. hasn't been heavy-handed enough] as justification for others appropriating them, yet when they do they are met with a huge backlash from the market.

    A very odd situation.
    Not really.

    Gibson didn't defend its mandolin designs, which originated about 100 years ago, for quite a long time. Even many of its electric designs haven't received continuous defense, or even registration as trademarks until after a long period of use.

    That's an easy distinction for me.

    YMMV
    Play it like you mean it.

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  18. #636

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by JL277z View Post
    Late '90s, actually. "Bondi Blue" iMac (middle pic) came out in 1998, fruit colors (top pic) were announced in early 1999 (more info here). But that minor detail aside, I see your point! (I avoided the whole iMac thing - my Macs at the time were plain ol' beige giant behemoths that, with their extra cooling fans and extra hard drives, sounding like mini vacuum cleaners... I kept that last great old workhorse beige Mac for many many years (hey, it still worked, why get rid of it?) before finally switching over to Linux and then Windows. Never did buy an iMac, just didn't appeal to me, certainly not brightly colored ones. Wouldn't want bright-colored guitar pegheads either, makes the guitar look like a toy.)
    -you mean I’ve only been trying to forget about those bright colored computers since 1998? Seems much longer! I actually feel bad about posting the error but I just couldn’t face looking up those details, again!
    Last edited by atsunrise; Jul-20-2019 at 2:20pm.

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  20. #637

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Not really.

    Gibson didn't defend its mandolin designs, which originated about 100 years ago, for quite a long time. Even many of its electric designs haven't received continuous defense, or even registration as trademarks until after a long period of use.

    That's an easy distinction for me.

    YMMV
    I don't believe there is any requisite to register your trademarks. There are benefits to registration, but [theoretically] use in common-law is just as valid in law.

    AFAIK the Lanham Act governing US trademark registrations wasn't enacted until 1946. Was there any codified trademark legislation prior to that? Gibson was already more than 50 years old by that time and I assume was conducting business according to accepted norms.

    Laws and how they are applied change over time - especially a period of 100 years. When I was active in the late 80s a trademark was pretty much restricted to a graphic representation. I recall some US states had started allowing "wordmarks" but that wasn't taken seriously at the time. Now that we live in an internet world, wordmarks are all the rage and ubiquitous. Regional distinctions have also been blurred, especially in light of the Lexmark precedent.

    You can't judge past behaviour based on current norms as "norms" were likely quite different back then.
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  21. #638
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    F-5's changed with each regime at Gibson. When Guy Hart took over, they strayed from the Loar era instruments. When CMI bought the company and McCarty took over it went through a drastic change to the wide peghead with the new logo. By then they had thrown away most of the old forms the Loars were made with. Then when Norlin got in it became the atrocious monstrocity of the 70's.
    So when the replica's began to be built it was more than a shape, it was a sound. If there's anything Gibson abandoned it was the sound which is what it's all about in the end. Sure, they had scrolls and points and flowerpots, but they had no soul.

  22. #639

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    IIRC Fender lost its claims to the stratocaster body shape last go around and it's now technically considered "generic." If that's so, Gibson [and everyone else] is well within their rights to make as many as they wish even without a claim via Kramer. I don't believe the IP at issue with Dean has been tested in court yet.

    I believe the recent round started with Gibson asserting their rights [aka policing their marks]. That received significant marketplace push-back causing Gibson to pull back.
    Ah! You're aware of the Fender case! That's good, because it is relevant.

    In the 1950s, Fender started selling guitars with particular shapes. In 2004, after decades of non-policing of the shapes, Fender then attempted to register trademarks on the shapes. In 2009, they ultimately lost.

    You probably don't know this, as you have not acknowledged it at all, but Gibson similarly started selling guitars and other instruments with particular shapes decades ago. In 1997, after decades of non-policing of the shapes, Gibson then attempted to register trademarks on the shapes. There are now interconnected court cases seeking to either enforce or remove trademark protection from the shapes.

    Gibson *did* trademark the LP singlecut design in 1994, and sued PRS guitars in 2000 over the PRS "Singlecut" model. Gibson won that suit in 2004, but lost on appeal in 2005, wiping out that trademark.

    Your statement that Gibson was asserting its rights presupposes that the decades of non-policing has no effect. You seem very optimistic, but deliberately avoiding mentioning unpleasant or inconvenient facts could lead one to doubt honesty of the avoider's arguments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    What I find very curious in all this is that the primary argument I've seen thus far is that Gibson is being heavy-handed. At the same time I've read many suggest it's because Gibson doesn't police their properties [i.e. hasn't been heavy-handed enough] as justification for others appropriating them, yet when they do they are met with a huge backlash from the market.

    A very odd situation.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Not really.

    Gibson didn't defend its mandolin designs, which originated about 100 years ago, for quite a long time. Even many of its electric designs haven't received continuous defense, or even registration as trademarks until after a long period of use.

    That's an easy distinction for me.

    YMMV
    Interesting! Bill, I had mentioned those very fact to Verne just in the past few days in this topic, and his writing makes it clear that either he completely forgot, or that he is deliberately skewing things. I'm going to assume that he just plumb forgot, but that does make discussion difficult.

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    I don't believe there is any requisite to register your trademarks. There are benefits to registration, but [theoretically] use in common-law is just as valid in law.

    AFAIK the Lanham Act governing US trademark registrations wasn't enacted until 1946. Was there any codified trademark legislation prior to that? Gibson was already more than 50 years old by that time and I assume was conducting business according to accepted norms.
    As the US judge in the 1874 Linoleum case ruled on the common-law trademark, even if "Linoleum" had been a registered trademark, it was too widely genericized to continue as a trademark. Given that the judge knew of established trademark law more than 70 years before the Lanham act, I'll accept that ruling's mention of such as proof of its existence.

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  24. #640

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    Your statement that Gibson was asserting its rights presupposes that the decades of non-policing has no effect. You seem very optimistic, but deliberately avoiding mentioning unpleasant or inconvenient facts could lead one to doubt honesty of the avoider's arguments.
    Not sure this is fair. As I stated above I'm like a judge coming cold to this case. I don't know the parties or the history and am relying on responses to provide the necessary context. These matters are decided on the preponderance of the evidence. You can't assume everyone knows the precedence unless you present it, as you've done above. Thanks for the background.

    Making bold statements like "Gibson didn't defend its XXX designs for quite a long time" is no more helpful than saying "the moon is made of cheese" and I give assertions like that the amount of weight commensurate with that understanding; I do not consider these "facts."

    OTOH statements like "Gibson *did* trademark the LP singlecut design in 1994, and sued ..." are very helpful and provide "facts" necessary to further the discussion.
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  25. #641

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    F-5's changed with each regime at Gibson....

    So when the replica's began to be built it was more than a shape, it was a sound. If there's anything Gibson abandoned it was the sound which is what it's all about in the end. Sure, they had scrolls and points and flowerpots, but they had no soul.
    Sorry, but nope. If it were all about sound, you'd have had more variety in shape. The replicas were all about the shape because that's what sold. Still true today, as you don't see innovative shapes abounding.

    The goal was better sound, but it had to come in the Gibson shape to be marketable.
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  27. #642
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    So Randy Wood and Bob Givens were supposed to say to themselves, "sure new Gibsons suck, but I shouldn't infringe on their intelectual propery".

  28. #643

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    So Randy Wood and Bob Givens were supposed to say to themselves, "sure new Gibsons suck, but I shouldn't infringe on their intelectual propery".
    Quite simply, yes. They could have been like Orville and extended the design of the instrument, but didn't. They didn't use any new design elements, just better craftsmanship. They copied another's design, no other way to put it no matter what the justification or who the maker is.

    The legality and ethics of that are entirely different, but upon reflection the lack of originality and creativity is stunning to me.

    YMMV
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  30. #644
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Well you can put hook scrolls or make them look like a duck all day long but in the end you have a 15th fret elevated fingerboard f hole mandolin.

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  32. #645
    Howling at the moon Wolfboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    They didn't use any new design elements, just better craftsmanship. They copied another's design, no other way to put it no matter what the justification or who the maker is.

    The legality and ethics of that are entirely different, but upon reflection the lack of originality and creativity is stunning to me.
    Well, again: would you level the same criticism at makers of dreadnought guitars other than Martin, or at virtually every violin maker since Stradivari?

    I'm genuinely curious, because I'm really having trouble understanding why mandolin builders shouldn't make F5's if that's what the market wants, the builders believe that to be the optimum design, and they're within their legal rights to do so (as appears to have been established, despite Gibson's cease-and-desist letters to certain mandolin luthiers).

  33. #646

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    If you read my earlier posts, I drew a distinction between 400 year old designs and the F shape that certainly is attributable to Gibson.

    I also commented that it may be quite legal for folks to copy Gibson's design and not suffer any legal repercussions. Thats a choice for any individual or company. A '15th fret elevated fingerboard f hole mandolin' can come in a variety of body shapes, but they are not very prevalent. You do see them advertised in the Classifieds.

    I'm also commenting on the lack of originality and creativity of many makers, regardless of the justifications that have been offered. Business is hard, I get it, but it certainly would be nice to see more original designs.

    Try copying a Coke bottle because 'that's what the market wants' and see where you get.
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  35. #647

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Also, a lot of people are forgetting what the purpose of the patent system is. Yes, I know were's not talking about patents specifically right now. But what we are going back and forth about is the intent and purpose of an intellectual property system in the first place.

    It's not about morality. It's about economic growth.

    It's to make sure that everyone can use new technology. A patent, one of the most valuable forms of intellectual property, guarantees that after it expires, the technology can be used by all. Unless the company continues to innovate new forms of technology, they are giving their rights away in return for an initial protected period.

    Now, trademarks work a little differently in the US in the present time, but historically, the point of intellectual property has been to make sure that everyone (i.e the country's economy as a whole) benefits from the technological advances of a company.

    A lot of the supposedly pure interpretations of intellectual property rights expressed on this thread are based on a misunderstanding of this.

    Morally speaking, I think old stuff should be everyone's. New stuff can be owned. After 20 years, what else have you been working on? You should have at least something else which can turn a profit, if you're paying attention. I work with startups all day long, and one of the hardest things is focusing, not coming up with new stuff.

    After 50 years, it's gonna be communal property, OR... a trade secret... that's OK too - if it's obscure, or non-obvious enough that you can keep it a secret, I think you can hang onto sole ownership of it.

    We should respect originality and advancement, for a reasonable period of time, but homages and faithful reproductions done in love for the original work should also be fair game for craftsmen/women.

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  37. #648
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    OK, just one more.
    What happened in the mid to late 60's was a demand for a GIBSON F-5 LOAR style mandolin developed and Gibson wasn't filling that demand. So by Bill M's logic those who filled the demand should have offered something different than what the buying public wanted. Right?

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  39. #649
    Howling at the moon Wolfboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    If you read my earlier posts, I drew a distinction between 400 year old designs and the F shape that certainly is attributable to Gibson.
    I know you did. That doesn't answer my question. What you're criticizing is the "lack of originality and creativity" of F5 builders, not any legal ramifications that might arise from building F5s after the Gibson model. Is that not the same "lack of originality and creativity" of a violin maker who copies a Strad? The age and trademark status of the model seem irrelevant to your criticism here, do they not? Isn't a lack of originality and creativity a lack of originality and creativity regardless of the age of the original model?

    Besides, the Martin dreadnought design certainly isn't 400 years old, and the Gibson F5 design is in the public domain as much as the Martin dreadnought design as far as I know, so I ask you again: are you leveling your same criticism at the likes of, say, Wayne Henderson, or Santa Cruz, or Bourgeois, or Collings, or John Slobod, or anyone else who makes dreadnought guitars clearly styled after Martins?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I'm also commenting on the lack of originality and creativity of many makers, regardless of the justifications that have been offered. Business is hard, I get it, but it certainly would be nice to see more original designs.

    Try copying a Coke bottle because 'that's what the market wants' and see where you get.
    Weak equivalence. First, the Coke bottle shape is trademarked; the F5 design is not. (Whether or not it "should" be, it isn't.) Second, sure, it'd be nice to see more original designs, but the market DOES want F5s, whether by Gibson or by other makers; that seems to be a proven fact. So if a mandolin builder "copies" an F5, we already know "where they'll get." For proof of that, I refer you to the "Summer NAMM 2019 Report" thread, where we see Ellis, Pava, Weber, Kentucky, Eastman and The Loar all proudly displaying their F5 mandolins, some at fairly premium prices, and obviously expecting buyers for them.

  40. #650
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    and in the end.. its a buyers choice to buy what they choose.. I like any instrument that looks real Nice.. and has the sound and tone too. I dont have a issue with Builder replicating a well known.. as long as they can put there own spin on it to make it desirable.

    as For Gibson.. they make it sound like they were the first and want to be the last.. but its like the guy that invented the tire.. theres a lot of makers out there that seem there way is better than others.. so you get to pick and choose..
    Last edited by slimt; Jul-20-2019 at 10:22pm.

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