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Thread: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

  1. #651
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    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.
    Your points are spot on.

    I would, however, take exception to the statement regarding innovative shapes. There are few instruments that can claim greater variety of shapes than mandolins. In fact, I can't think offhand of any other instrument that has been produced in such wild variety.

  2. #652

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by atsunrise View Post
    -you mean I've only been trying to forget about those bright colored computers since 1998? Seems much longer!
    Yeah... and back when those things were current and unavoidable in the major publications, it seemed like time stopped and dragged on forever. I was glad to see those bright colors go away. Surprised the whole iMac thing survived though.

    I guess they were trying to design more of a 'consumer'-level product, which seems to have become a major part of their focus ever since. (Presumably there are parallels in the musical instrument industry as well?)

    Appears to have been a financially successful strategy, as AAPL stock sure isn't $4/share anymore.

    I should have bought some of their stock while I had the chance, but like many people back then, I didn't think the company would survive.

    I did, however, plan ahead enough to buy up lots and lots of mostly-used spare parts (some of them already getting hard to find) from various 3rd-party sellers - which didn't benefit Apple at all - the idea being to keep my already-older equipment humming along nicely for as many years as possible, without having to completely start over from scratch.

    Speaking of spare parts, why aren't the companies who sell Gibson-shaped guitar necks and other spare new parts that resemble something that Gibson may have designed eleventy-umpteen years ago, subject to being attacked by Gibson lawyers? Or have they been? Or has Gibson just not got that far yet? Or ??

    Quote Originally Posted by atsunrise View Post
    I actually feel bad about posting the error but I just couldn't face looking up those details, again!
    I understand!

    Oh and about painted peg-heads, I just realized something. I do, in fact, have a Strat-style guitar (non-Gibson - it's a cheap Indonesian Squier, says "by Fender" on it, FWIW) that has what appears to be a painted peg-head which matches its painted body, but both peghead and body are solid black... not objectionable to me, certainly not bright or garish... Although it's a high-gloss thick plastic-like black finish, like the whole guitar fell into a vat of some sort of melted plastic dip and then they quickly wiped the dip off the back of the neck (it's almost like kind of a 'speed neck' thing going on with the back of the neck, natural wood color there which actually plays very nicely). But the rest of the guitar being the dark color black, not bright magenta or green or something, its appearance is acceptable enough.

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  4. #653

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfboy View Post
    ......

    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?
    I'm not talking about guitars or violins. The agreement between Martin and Ditson for the design of the first dreadnoughts is unknown to me. Violin origin is also a bit murky, but certainly predates Stradivarius since he studied with Amati I believe. And intellectual property rights were certainly different in earlier times.

    I'm explicitly saying that F style mandolins are copies of the Gibson design of the 191x's and 20's. Could have better sound, workmanship, prettier finish or whatever, but copies. How else would you describe them?

    And the style may be in the public domain so there's no legal or ethical. repercussion for folks. Anybody could make and sell one, although we may see further litigation on this. NFI on how it ends.

    As this thread illustrates, design protection is a difficult task, both the 'should' and the 'how'.
    Play it like you mean it.

  5. #654
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    This older than the Gibson Snake head open book peg head?
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Man...e/303229317386

  6. #655
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I'm explicitly saying that F style mandolins are copies of the Gibson design of the 191x's and 20's. Could have better sound, workmanship, prettier finish or whatever, but copies. How else would you describe them?
    Of course they are. I never said they weren't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    And the style may be in the public domain so there's no legal or ethical. repercussion for folks.
    We're agreed there too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I'm not talking about guitars or violins. The agreement between Martin and Ditson for the design of the first dreadnoughts is unknown to me. Violin origin is also a bit murky, but certainly predates Stradivarius since he studied with Amati I believe. And intellectual property rights were certainly different in earlier times.
    You're not specifically talking about guitars or violins, no, but what you are doing is criticizing mandolin builders who copy the F5 design for a "lack of originality and creativity" in doing so. In your opinion, then, does it not show the same "lack of originality and creativity" when a violin maker copies a Strad or a guitar maker copies a Martin dreadnought? So I ask you for a third time: do you level that same criticism at those builders?

    The history of those designs and their intellectual property rights is irrelevant to the question - a "lack of originality and creativity" is a "lack of originality and creativity" regardless of what an instrument maker is copying - and to drag that history into this discussion is to miss the point.

    I'm just trying to get a handle on why you're so vehement in your criticism of mandolin builders who use Gibson's F5 design, accusing them of a "lack of originality and creativity" and even calling it "questionable ethically" (post 447). Once more: do you also feel that way about makers of other instruments who do the same thing?

    (And while we're at it, now that we've seen that NAMM thread, are you specifically calling out Ellis, Pava, Weber, Kentucky, Eastman and The Loar for a "lack of originality and creativity" and "questionable ethics" on display there?)

  7. #656

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Not an exact copy, but I always thought the peghead on the Takamine Garth Brooks guitars was at least inspired by the 20's Gibson snakehead shape.......

  8. #657
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Gibson returns Oberheim trademark.

    https://guitar.com/news/industry-new...eim-trademark/
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  10. #658
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Interesting commentary in this video about the old Gibson Showcase particularly from 00:55 to 01:13...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=G0vvoaHeyH0

    Cheers
    2005 DMM D-70321

  11. #659

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    IP laws are a relatively recent development, historically speaking. Copyright came about after the Gutenberg to determine who had the rights to use printing presses to make copies - that was the 1400's. The underlying premise is that all ideas come from a singular pool of ideas and the first to manifest the idea in a tangible form gets the right to commercially exploit that effort for a fixed period of time. After that it "reverts to the public domain" from whence the idea originated for the benefit of society. Prior to that you had craftspeople and their apprentices who just did what was necessary to stay alive - they shared ideas and techniques as the concept of owning IP hadn't developed yet.

    Trademarks are different. US trademark law is justified as falling under the constitution's commerce clause (copyright law is specifically spelled out in the constitution, trademark is an add-on) giving the government the power to regulate trade. Unlike copyrights that expire, trademarks can endure forever with the proper effort.

    What I find fascinating in all this is the disconnect between a company needs to do to effectively market their products and what they have to do to maintain trademark protection. In general, when a product is introduced and doesn't do well [initially] the wise business-person will choose to minimize their exposure by putting their investments in products that are paying the bills. If that product - which may have been ahead of its time or otherwise - suddenly takes off, in some cases those companies are penalized for being prudent managers via trademark banditry.

    The F5 design, AFAIK, took off because Bill Munroe started using one in the 60s. It's interesting to note that Munroe used a Gibson F5 (not a clone), which Gibson was having difficulty selling for many years (mandolin orchestras were current in the late 1800s and early 1900s but were long gone by the 60s). Demand shoots up and a bunch of "entrepreneurs" take advantage of Gibson's weakness to copy Gibson's original IP and do it long enough that they are able to legally deny Gibson's inherent common-law rights.
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Interesting to note that Bill MONROE didn't use a clone since there was no such thing as a clone in 1945. And that he used that mandolin all through the late 40's, 50's and on into the 90's.

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  14. #661

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Jim Hilburn, I've noticed you being very interested in and offering a lot of commentary on this thread. I'd like to ask you, from your point of view, who would you give credit for the design and visual characteristics of the mandolins you produce and sell? Are they your own designs or adhere to other specifications?

  15. #662

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    Interesting to note that Bill MONROE didn't use a clone since there was no such thing as a clone in 1945. And that he used that mandolin all through the late 40's, 50's and on into the 90's.
    Thanks for keeping me honest with the details Jim.

    Guitars makers suffered Japanese cloning in the 60s (prior to that builders respected each others IP). That lead to a major changes in the industry as builders scrambled for more cash to keep operating (i.e. corporate changes at Fender, Gibson. Danelectro bit the dust, etc.) and reduced their cost-of-goods (production short-cuts leading to poor quality instruments) to lower prices to compete with the cheap imported knock-offs. That was the 70s when Gibson was accused of being "heavy handed" when trying to press their IP rights.

    So what's ground-zero for F5 clones?
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  16. #663
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I'll just add that apparently trademark law in the U.S. is not nearly as settled and clear cut as one might think. There appears to be two competing legal theories: one is that a trademark is property; the other is that trademark is a right of use granted by a regulatory agency. This dichotomy creates a strong incentive to claim one's property or one's right of use as broadly as possible and seek appellate court and agency determination of what the law is and how it applies to the facts. The facts that matter legally will not be known until either the parties stipulate an agreed upon set of facts or a court or regulatory agency enters a finding of fact based on a preponderance of the evidence submitted and admitted. Until then, it's all opinion and speculation. We can argue and posture until the cows come home. And, yes, the parties could dismiss their legal proceedings after reaching an agreement that applies only to them, in which case perhaps none of this will be resolved for the rest of us. I think, statistically, that this is the more likely outcome.
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  18. #664
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    The beginning of home made F-5's can't be compared to Japanese copys of popular guitars. The early mandolin makers were filling a void that Gibson had no interest in filling. The Japanese were trying to cash in on what was popular.
    K, is that a trick question? My F-5 mandolins are based on the Loar era mandolins made by the Gibson Mandolin and Guitar company although you would find quite a bit of differences in shape and size due to the lack of really detailed prints in my earlier mandolins.
    In the beginning it was a micro market that didn't even get on Gibsons radar. They were busy trying to figure out which way the electric guitar market was going to go. It wasn't until Henry arrived that anyone at Gibson paid any attention to the then large mandolin market.

  19. #665

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    Interesting to note that Bill MONROE didn't use a clone since there was no such thing as a clone in 1945. And that he used that mandolin all through the late 40's, 50's and on into the 90's.
    Monroe circa 1977 - the heyday of Ibanez 'lawsuit' instruments!

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  20. #666
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I bet that photo is the only time Bill played that.

  21. #667

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Haywood View Post
    I'll just add that apparently trademark law in the U.S. is not nearly as settled and clear cut as one might think. There appears to be two competing legal theories: one is that a trademark is property; the other is that trademark is a right of use granted by a regulatory agency. This dichotomy creates a strong incentive to claim one's property or one's right of use as broadly as possible and seek appellate court and agency determination of what the law is and how it applies to the facts. The facts that matter legally will not be known until either the parties stipulate an agreed upon set of facts or a court or regulatory agency enters a finding of fact based on a preponderance of the evidence submitted and admitted. Until then, it's all opinion and speculation. We can argue and posture until the cows come home. And, yes, the parties could dismiss their legal proceedings after reaching an agreement that applies only to them, in which case perhaps none of this will be resolved for the rest of us. I think, statistically, that this is the more likely outcome.
    And I think Gibson's current moves to licensing deals leaves that door open for Dean and could settle the issue for now.

    While I tend to agree a valid argument can be made that the Stratocaster and Les Paul body shapes have become "generic" I'm hard pressed to extend that to the designs at issue with Dean. I don't think those designs have ever sold well and certainly can't be considered "generic" because a few builders want to rely on that in their arguments to justify appropriating other's IP.

    While I applaud lawmakers aim to make this type of litigation civil by barring penalties [before the TTAB at any rate - all they can do is keep a mark on the register or not], it leaves the playing field ripe for abusive legal tactics. IME trademark lawyers throw everything they can at the wall and hope something will stick whether it has merit or not - I've found very few with morals among "professionals" in this field.

    It's also educational to see how little due-diligence the PTO takes when approving a trademark so even having a registration is no guarantee the registrant is entitled to the mark yet once they manage to get a number they have all sorts of legal dirty-tricks to keep it away from the rightful owner.
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  22. #668

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Long before the Japanese copies of American guitars and mandolins, other countries, such as Russia, made near exact clones of many items such as Leica cameras, without regard or consideration for copyrights, trademarks, patents, etc.......and "who" might have actually owned them.....

    This was happening long before WWII.

    Oddly enough, many of these counterfeit Leicas appear daily for sale on eBay, BUT, eBay prohibits the sale of Chinese counterfeit Les Pauls, for example.............odd double standard, IMHO. Maybe a "vintage" counterfeit has more validity? Again, doesn't make sense to me......

  23. #669

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Big tech will only enforce a trademark or copyright if it is brought to their attention, plus Leica is/was a German company AFAIK and trademark law is country specific. I bought a Russian-made Zenit camera (Leica knock-off) circa 1976 from a kiosk in NY's Times Square. They were quite popular at the time for being a good 35mm for cheap. I remember being surprised at the time to find it for sale in the US for those legal reasons. Plus it was a Russian product in the US during the heat of the cold war.

    Life was quite different prior to the current interconnected internet world - that seems to be escaping some. It was very difficult to know what was going on with products and markets around the world. That's changed significantly in the past few years as commerce has migrated online where just about everything is available through a google search. Nowadays you can set up a google alert on certain terms and get an email whenever there is an online mention. 10 years ago that was unavailable. 20 years ago google didn't really exist in any significant way. Same goes for Amazon.

    We've been living through the most significant social/commercial transformations since the transition to the industrial age but still prone to applying industrial age thinking to what we do and how. Today life is almost instant; prior to the internet that was far from the case. Prior to the telephone (which is within the scope of Gibson's 100+ year history) it took even longer for information to move, if at all.

    The other curious thing about trademark law is it penalizes companies for doing a good job. It was always held in marketing circles that you wanted your brand to become so well known it became synonymous in the consumers mind with with the product. Kleenex achieved that in the field of facial tissues and instead of reaping the rewards were penalized for their success by having their brand declared "generic" and losing protections.

    US trademark law may help the politicians regulate commerce and keep lawyers rich, but it does little to protect consumers from confusion and throws a major monkey-wrench in a winning business strategy. Let's hope it keeps evolving cause it's far from perfect as is.
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  25. #670
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    I bet that photo is the only time Bill played that.
    I bet he just posed with it and in his mind saying what a POS . But Ill take your money for the picture shot.

  26. #671
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by slimt View Post
    I bet he just posed with it and in his mind saying what a POS . But Ill take your money for the picture shot.
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...roe-and-ibanez

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...e&#39;s-ibanez

    There are more threads if anyone is interested.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  28. #672

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Mike,
    Aren't you concerned about violating Scotch tape or Duck tape trademarks with your avatar?

  29. #673
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    Mike,
    Aren't you concerned about violating Scotch tape or Duck tape trademarks with your avatar?
    Are you kidding me? I'm a paid Painter's tape endorser.

    I'm thinking of having a blue swatch of that stuff inlaid on the headstock of my mandola.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  31. #674
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    So what's the longest thread in Cafe history?

    Edit: Compulsive Purchase Flatiron 1N is at 47 pages. Only 20 more to go....

  32. #675
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    So what's the longest thread in Cafe history?
    This one is not even close. I'd have to really look to answer that question.

    To give you an idea of where this stands look at this thread and I do not think it's the longest thread.

    Another is here.

    This one has grown pretty fast but I suspect it won't double in size. I've been wrong before.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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