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Thread: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

  1. #51
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    New management, same old stuff.

    Gibson seems to have difficulty adapting to a changing market and manufacturing environment.
    Electric guitar sales are down world-wide. Electric guitar oriented rock music is declining in popularity. The demand for Les Paul's and SG's is shrinking.

    Acoustic instruments are gaining in popularity. Buyers are expressing considerable interest in mandolins, banjos, and ukuleles. Gibson is making only a handful of mandolins. It's been over 10 years since they assembled a banjo, and they haven't made a uke since the 1960's.

    Younger buyers are less disposed to pay high prices for new instruments, and are less concerned about whether or not an instrument is made in the US.

    Many of Gibson's suppliers were badly burned in the bankruptcy settlement. They are going to be less inclined to offer favorable prices and easy credit terms to the "new" Gibson. . . ."And that'll be cash on the barrelhead, son."

    Because of Gibson's restrictive policies, most dealers are not interested in adding them to their product lines. If Ares Management, the owner of Guitar Center/Musician's Friend, decides to liquidate their unprofitable retail chain, Gibson will lose over half of their dealers.

    It would seem that Gibson needs all the friends that they can get. They're not doing a very good job of winning any.

    Although Martin and Taylor are both primarily building flat-top guitars, they seem to co-exist without threatening each other.

    I give Gibson two to three years before they hit the wall again.

    I don't know why I waste my time thinking and writing about this. I have better ways to spend my time than concerning myself with Gibson.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-19-2019 at 1:11am.

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  3. #52

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    This video is pretty awful. On the other hand I remember when Fender successfully defended the headstock shapes for strats and teles but not the body style. I have always been surprised that the gibson f style mandolin headstock has been so liberally copied. Generally speaking, if they did try to defend a claim on the points, scrolls and other body items I think it would be fairly difficult for them to effectively protect them as builders could make very minor changes that would defeat any design specifics. Gibson would either have to be so general as to not get granted a protection or so specific that a slightly smaller or larger scroll or point would be safe. IP is a legit asset and I think that Gibson has at least a right to try to protect their designs. It doesn't matter how lame some instruments might have been, a lame CEO, high prices, etc. There's a reason everyone is copying their designs and they have some right to own certain aspects of them. That might be an unpopular opinion but being original is the high ground. Making a shitty video that basically explains it in the worst possible way only makes the hill steeper for them.

    Also, if they are successful then all the existing instruments featuring protected gibson design elements will be more valuable.

  4. #53
    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community



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  6. #54

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sorensen View Post


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    Nice one Steve, thanks!
    -and there, I was just about to write, ‘Gibson, Gibson, Gibson, Gibson, Gibson Gibson’!
    This Trade Mark thing got stuck in my head

    (it is an interesting debate)

  7. #55
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Strange video. Peculiar angles of view. The bulging eyes and almost fanatical delivery does not create a very good impression (to say the least).
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  8. #56
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    From the post made several hours ago here, since you can't link to those database searches without them expiring I took screen shots of the three which are posted below. I believe in that post, the contents of which were sent to us by a third party, the trademark number for the truss rod cover was incorrect so I used the one that was part of the letter sent to one of the builders that received this communication. Hoping some of them will weigh in here but won't hold my breath on that one.

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  10. #57
    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Some thoughts...

    1) What bothers me most about this video is that the message violates the camaraderie and the cooperative nature of the luthiery community. Gibson is taking a go-it-alone and me-first approach when most of the rest of the individuals and companies that make guitars, mandolins, banjos, etc talk to each other about all aspects of building an instrument.

    They could adopt a cooperative approach, develop that intellectual property as a service, and start charging for it.

    2) Agnesi does not look comfortable. A bit too intense. I wonder if there's some disagreement inside Gibson about this approach.

    3) As a songwriter, I believe in protecting intellectual property. I fully supported Metallica's rants about Napster, et al back in the day. I think they were necessary, if a bit heavy handed, to alert people to the issue. And to be fair they had a revenue stream being eroded right in front of them.

    But I think Gibson are going about this in exactly the wrong way. Gibson has effectively ignored things that can be considered trade marked or trade mark-able designs for decades. New ownership or not, screaming about it now comes off as bullying and will probably hurt its business.

    Daniel

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  12. #58
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nestlerode View Post
    But I think Gibson are going about this in exactly the wrong way. Gibson has effectively ignored things that can be considered trade marked or trade mark-able designs for decades. New ownership or not, screaming about it now comes off as bullying and will probably hurt its business.
    Daniel
    Agree. I hate to see when things change from simple human logic to pure law & cash flow dictate. That's what is happening in many other areas - we probably don't know how many such issues and bullying (or lawsuits etc.) are going in the more profitable areas like IT (Scott surely knows more). Companies collecting patents and forcing others to pay royalties (pay or we'll sue you...) for patents that probably shouldn't have been issued in the first place or are not really applied but companies will pay because lawsuit, even won, would cost more... Current Trademark and patent laws are wild and create opportunities for such (humanly wrong, IMO) behavior and Gibson tries to jump the train... Fortunately Gibson is not in very good financia position to really dig deep into this so thay are more of trying to "pick the crumbles from ground" they lost many years ago. Maybe they think thay can earn more just collecting fees than actually making instruments. They could just rent the designs and/or name for others to produce.

    Just on the side note... is there a legal way to attack validity of those old trademarks? We all know there are hundreds of other brands' instruments per one Gibson bearing those "trademarks". For majority of folks (except the few Gibson die hards) they are no longer connected to the brand. Perhaps crowdfunding initiative with a good lawyer...
    A good time to dust off my old headstock design...
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  14. #59
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew B. Carlson View Post
    Some companies that aren't worried are probably the overseas ones. Gilchrist, Duff, Northfield etc.
    Northfield is not an overseas company, they are a company that happens to have founders in two different countries. Gets further complicated: at least one individual builder that received the letter is based outside of the U.S. Everyone can draw their own conclusion from that.

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  16. #60
    Registered User Douglas McMullin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I don't have much to add to the discussion other than this reminds me why I don't own any instruments from legacy brands like Gibson. If I had the money, I might "play authentic" as Mr. Agnesi suggests, but to me authentic means the instruments Gibson built a long time ago. 80-100+ year old mandolins and acoustic guitars and 60 year old electrics. Perhaps if their quality had been more consistent I would have some interest in their more modern offerings, but in my opinion others have done it better for a long time now. I won't say never and will see what future quality is like, but at the moment I can't imagine myself buying a modern Gibson guitar or mandolin. A company presence like what they are showing only serves to further drive me away from their brand.

  17. #61
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by zoukboy View Post
    What sblock said above... Fender did not protect its copyrights to the Telecaster and Stratocaster designs and so lost the right to do so. Rickenbacker, on the other hand, has done their due diligence and so have retained their rights.

    Gibson has been lax and ham-handed and now seems to want to put that copyright genie back in the bottle, but simply changing their corporate leadership and upping the @$$hole factor is not going to do it this late in the game. I eagerly await their courtroom losses.

    Crowdfunding for legal expenses for independents who are attacked by Mr. Agnesi and his corporate overlords, anyone?
    The interesting thing is that strats and telecasters are now covted in a way that rickenbackers (very fine instruments) arenít.
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  18. #62
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Iíve been a Gibson fan for quite sometime but this rawly ticks me off.
    Concentrate on making better guitars Gibson and less on your oittle snits.
    Doc Ivory
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  19. #63
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Electric guitar oriented rock music is declining in popularity.
    Not sure that is a defend-able statement? I was just posting how while visiting Nashville I was expecting a plethora of county and bluegrass acoustic acts, what I found was the opposite, most live music being rock oriented cover bands playing electric instruments. Same is pretty much for my home region, classic rock/pop and top 40 still reign supreme over styles like folk, bluegrass, acoustic jazz and classical, and live music is mostly electric guitars, electric bass and drums with whatever else. Even country music is produced with predominately electric guitars and basses.
    Doesn't mean they are buying Les Paul's and SG's, at least not new ones anyway.
    But I don't think Electric Guitar music is on the decline at all. When I was growing up, maybe 1 or 2 kids out of 10 had electric guitars, now its more like 5 or 6 out of 10 have electric guitars, whether or not they actually study guitar on them is a different story.
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  21. #64

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Just watched the video. Legally and from a PR perspective, it seems like the worst of both worlds for Gibson:
    1) Legally, issuing a broad threat by video if they don’t back it up only further dilutes future claims to trademark infringement; and
    2) In terms of public good will, they further liquidate their brand equity by appearing to intimidate builders and players.
    0 for 2.

  22. #65

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    A company doesn't have to have a defensible legal right to IP (copyright, trademark, patents, trade secret) in order to threaten legal action. See the Intellectual Ventures vs. Carbonite case from a few years back. Many small shops will get scared of the legal costs it would take to defend against a suit from a big company with deep pockets, and rightly so. You may be in the right, doesn't mean they can't put you out of business if you try to fight them.

    Just another good reason for folks to come up with their own designs...

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  24. #66

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Mott View Post
    Just watched the video. Legally and from a PR perspective, it seems like the worst of both worlds for Gibson:
    1) Legally, issuing a broad threat by video if they don’t back it up only further dilutes future claims to trademark infringement; and
    2) In terms of public good will, they further liquidate their brand equity by appearing to intimidate builders and players.
    0 for 2.
    Landmark libel civil case decision just occurred in Ohio. The message is, you need to back up your assertions with facts and control your employees activities or you pay, and pay big time. Juries don’t like bullies it seems.

    As for the brand, companies pay big bucks to build brands. But some just can’t seem to maintain them, and social media adds a dangerous element to the mix. Look at how many people have seen that “Mark Authentic” video, and it’s still roiling around long after it was deleted, out there in internet-land.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

  25. #67
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I can also agree in principal with Gibson, but while we are going historical let's look at why the F5 was so universally copied. I've been a mandolin nut since a kid and remember if you had the money in late 60's early70's ( which a lot of us didn't have) you could not buy a new mandolin that was any good, there was none being made. Several builders started getting reputations as making good mandolins, but they had to copy Gibson even to the point of Gibson name on the peg head. The first I saw of these was Roland White's that even had the Gibson label inside with the style F5 listed. A small word "copy" put to the right. Shortly after Johnny Hutto, who was playing in a band that i was playing guitar in started building mandolins with Gibson on the peg head. I asked why if he could do the job he was doing sound and fit and finish why give the credit to Gibson. He said if he varied design or put different name he couldn't give them away. Why Gibson didn't try to "nip it in the bud" at that time I don't know. I know now that we as players have come to accept the true builders name on the mandolin instead of Gibson. But how many would buy a new body style regardless of how it played or sounded, me being one of the last to change. At this point with so many still in spite of everything, wanting real Gibson I can't see how being hard nosed now will help Gibson any and if anything will cause only hard feelings.

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  27. #68
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I had to laugh to myself as I was watching the video and thinking; 'If they are really concerned about originality, maybe they should start by putting an end to making the Epiphone Staratocaster and P-bass copies'.

    My overall opinion: Although Gibson does have a fair point about their products, it is unfortunately way, way to late to start enforcing these trademarks. There are now countless manufacturers making Gibson-like products, and if Gibson was really serious about going after these other makers, their legal fees alone would cause them to go bankrupt in no time.

    Sorry Gibson - I have been playing your guitars for almost 40 years, but this time (as the old saying goes) you're probably a day late and dollar short . . .

  28. #69
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    It's easy to just see Gibson as a bully (and they're definitely acting like one), but I also see a dying company that is desperately trying to find any ways to survive. Sad.
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  30. #70
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I think they are getting killed (and it is their own fault) in the guitar market where everyone and their brother is making a Les Paul styled guitar or 335 or L00 or slope shoulder jumbo,etc. Who is a mandolin dealer besides The Mandolin Store for Gibson? Their share of the market is probably much smaller than copy cats like Eastman and others. What does it mean for C F Martin and their CEO models that are definitely take offs on classic Gibson designs? Meanwhile, we the players are buying what is available and works for our needs.

  31. #71
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I have to agree with some of the others: it's too little, too late. If they had made even a half-hearted attempt to defend these designs from the beginning, it might mean something but they didn't and it doesn't.

    If you want a perfect example of how to defend a design, look at Coca-Cola. They have a division that does nothing else and it seems to be working.
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  32. #72
    Registered User bbcee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    This was from the press release when Mr. Agnesi joined Gibson:

    “I am excited to bring Mark onboard at such a pivotal stage for Gibson,” said Gibson CMO Cesar Gueikian in Gibson’s official announcement of the hire. “He is the perfect fit to help us turn our vision into a reality and I can’t wait to see what Mark will bring to our team, our brands and our business”.

    Hope there's more to the Gibson Vision than this.

  33. #73

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Ugh, so I’m thinking Cesar was a customer at Norms.....it wreaks of “let me hire all my friends” and give them swell jobs with made up titles. I’m sorry, but maybe the judge should have disallowed the Chapter 11 filing and pushed them into liquidation.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

  34. #74

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

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    "Hey everybody... Mark here. I'd like to demonstrate my profound respect for iconic instruments like this one I'm holding...The Big Daddy of them all.

    To do so I decided to put on a jacket with the most zippers, metal buttons and buckles I could find."


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  36. #75
    Registered User tim noble's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I recall Martin going in a diametrically opposite direction in supporting Dick Boak and others in forming the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA). At the first symposium held in 1988 in Easton PA, Dick, Chris, Dave Musselwhite and others from Martin were there praising and encouraging a small group of luthiers who, for the most part, were coping Martins designs. Dick encouraged me to demonstrate my 2nd build - my version of a 1930 OM 40S. Martin was even selling parts and kits of their most popular designs and I believe that Chris's attitude was that the health and breadth of the instrument community was good for the industry as a whole. Martin has flourished while Gibson struggles with bankruptcy.
    Tim

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