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Thread: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

  1. #451
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric F. View Post
    What an astonishingly unprofessional statement. Do they not have a communications department? I'd flunk that piece if a student in my 200-level course wrote it.
    I was going to stay mum on that but... why not join the fun?



    I like the touch of putting a space before commas and periods, sometimes. That's a new one. I'll be off in a bit to check my AP Style Guide to see if changes I was not aware of have been made. Underlining bold headlines, also a brash way of getting the message across. And all that bolding, ie., shouting. Wow.

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  3. #452
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    I like the touch of putting a space before commas and periods, sometimes. That's a new one.
    My imagination must have been working overtime - I envisioned the poor, suffering commas and periods staging their own independent revolt by distancing themselves from the hideous bolding.



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  5. #453
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by stinkoman20xx View Post
    "they have entered into creative collaboration agreements with key boutique guitar makers and other related industry parties"

    IDK If I read it here or another site, but somebody posted something before this came out along the lines this was their end game from the start. For Gibson to get paid with the path of least resistance.Cause enough scare find a way for them to profit without actually going to court, because they even know the trademark thing was a bogus leg to stand on. I'm not sure how the collaborating is going to go.If they will pay licensing to Gibson to use certain shapes or designs, or do some sort of builds for Gibson or some other benefit towards Gibson in the end.
    I think you hit the nail on the head. Collaboration = licensing fees. I think this was Gibson's MO all along.

  6. #454
    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
    I hate to say this, but it needs to be said, small makers copied as close as they could, including the Gibson name on the peghead, to mandolins they made in the seventies and eighties, and still do today. I don't think that's a case of honorable 'small maker business ethics and individuality'. Certainly doesn't speak to creativity either.

    Gibson clearly innovated the mandolin design and they may have certainly diminished or abandoned their legal position by failing to trademark and enforce as appropriate, but people clearly appropriated another firm's design, right down to the thickness of the material not generally observable, ie, the arching and thickness of the tops and back. In other words, it wasn't the 'spirit' of design, but every last detail. There are certainly stories as to why it happened, but 'small maker ethics' don't rank very highly there in my opinion. [...]

    its nice there are better new instruments available now than in 1975, but its generally not a story of small maker innovation and creativity, just a return to quality and performance of another era.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    the desire to produce better instruments than were available doesn't absolve those makers of the outright copying of another's product and their own lack of creativity. And to be fair, Gibson didn't trademark the F body style, so that copying was perfectly legal, if not a bit unethical. 'Gibson' on the peghead is another matter.

    Makers could, and have, produced fine sounding instruments in different shapes than Gibson produced. The fact they were aware of the difficulty of selling instruments lacking g those attributes shows the perceived value of the Gibson design and shape. Appropriating that for their own use, to me, is questionable ethically.
    There's a big difference between a copy and a counterfeit. (A point which appears to be lost on Mark Agnesi in his role as Gibson spokesman.)

    I agree that counterfeit instruments - instruments pretending to be by a maker that they're not, e.g. a non-Gibson instrument with the Gibson name on the headstock - are ethically indefensible and a violation of trademark law, and should be dealt with accordingly.

    But I have a problem with this: "people clearly appropriated another firm's design, right down to the thickness of the material not generally observable, ie, the arching and thickness of the tops and back. In other words, it wasn't the 'spirit' of design, but every last detail. There are certainly stories as to why it happened, but 'small maker ethics' don't rank very highly there in my opinion."

    And this: "the desire to produce better instruments than were available doesn't absolve those makers of the outright copying of another's product and their own lack of creativity."

    And this: "The fact they were aware of the difficulty of selling instruments lacking those attributes shows the perceived value of the Gibson design and shape. Appropriating that for their own use, to me, is questionable ethically."

    Do you also feel that way about violin makers who copy the designs and dimensions of Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri? How about guitar makers who build dreadnoughts based directly on Martin's design (Gibson among them)?

    It's commonplace in the classical/Baroque/Renaissance music world for modern instrument makers to copy an original instrument as closely as possible, and openly state that they're doing it, not for lack of ethics or creativity but because they consider those instruments the best models to recreate. In the liner notes to the Academy of Ancient Music's recording of the Bach Brandenburg Concertos, just to take one example, I find instrument listings like "Violin: Rowland Ross 1978 after Amati." "Bass: Roger Dawson 1983 after 'The Tarisio' by Gasparo da Salo." "Harpsichord: Christopher Nobbs 1984 after anon. Franco-German circa 1680." And so on. And I have any number of CDs with listings like that in the credits.

    Do you consider that "questionable ethically"? Are those instrument makers showing a "lack of creativity"? Should they restrict themselves to "produc[ing] fine sounding instruments in different shapes"?

    I genuinely don't understand why anyone would think instrument makers shouldn't base their own work on the best models they can find, if they so choose, as long as they're honest about the name the instrument bears. And that includes makers of F5-style mandolins.

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  8. #455
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Some folks offering comments on this thread seem to think that trademarks and patents offer clear-cut protections (they do not) and that copies are somehow equivalent to "counterfeits" (they are not). Not every trademark or patent granted is legally valid, after all, and most have never been tested in a court of law. Brands must be consistently protected over time to retain their trademark validity. Counterfeits must be purposefully created to deceive. And there are many, many grey areas to consider.

    Most folks have agreed that putting "Gibson" or "The Gibson" on the headstock of a mandolin produced by some luthier not working for the Gibson Corporation constitutes a form of counterfeiting. But this is just about the only red line you can draw.

    Of course, Gibson also made some of the very best banjos between the 1920's and 1940's. Many of those banjos were produced as 4-strings, because there was a much bigger market for Dixieland-style players. Since the 1960's, luthiers have taken the pots and resonators from these old banjos and made replacement necks, converting them to 5-strings, suitable for use in bluegrass music. Nearly all those replacement necks have "Gibson" inlaid on the headstock, put there by the luthier who made the replacement neck. Counterfeits? I think not. Clearly, this was not done in any attempt to defraud. If anything, it gives "credit" to Gibson for having made the other parts of the banjo, and -- because these tend to be great instruments, and typically better than their modern counterparts -- such things only burnish the Gibson brand and reputation. So, are these conversion necks "unethical"? I don't believe so, and neither do most folks.

    This is but one example of a grey area. The case for instrument copies (in their design and dimensions, not in their labeling) being a longstanding tradition in luthiery is well made by Wolfboy in the previous post.

    I urge everyone to take a more nuanced view of this complex subject.

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  10. #456
    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfboy View Post
    There's a big difference between a copy and a counterfeit. (A point which appears to be lost on Mark Agnesi in his role as Gibson spokesman.)

    I agree that counterfeit instruments - instruments pretending to be by a maker that they're not, e.g. a non-Gibson instrument with the Gibson name on the headstock - are ethically indefensible and a violation of trademark law, and should be dealt with accordingly.

    But I have a problem with this: "people clearly appropriated another firm's design, right down to the thickness of the material not generally observable, ie, the arching and thickness of the tops and back. In other words, it wasn't the 'spirit' of design, but every last detail. There are certainly stories as to why it happened, but 'small maker ethics' don't rank very highly there in my opinion."

    And this: "the desire to produce better instruments than were available doesn't absolve those makers of the outright copying of another's product and their own lack of creativity."

    And this: "The fact they were aware of the difficulty of selling instruments lacking those attributes shows the perceived value of the Gibson design and shape. Appropriating that for their own use, to me, is questionable ethically."

    Do you also feel that way about violin makers who copy the designs and dimensions of Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri? How about guitar makers who build dreadnoughts based directly on Martin's design (Gibson among them)?

    It's commonplace in the classical/Baroque/Renaissance music world for modern instrument makers to copy an original instrument as closely as possible, and openly state that they're doing it, not for lack of ethics or creativity but because they consider those instruments the best models to recreate. In the liner notes to the Academy of Ancient Music's recording of the Bach Brandenburg Concertos, just to take one example, I find instrument listings like "Violin: Rowland Ross 1978 after Amati." "Bass: Roger Dawson 1983 after 'The Tarisio' by Gasparo da Salo." "Harpsichord: Christopher Nobbs 1984 after anon. Franco-German circa 1680." And so on. And I have any number of CDs with listings like that in the credits.

    Do you consider that "questionable ethically"? Are those instrument makers showing a "lack of creativity"? Should they restrict themselves to "produc[ing] fine sounding instruments in different shapes"?

    I genuinely don't understand why anyone would think instrument makers shouldn't base their own work on the best models they can find, if they so choose, as long as they're honest about the name the instrument bears. And that includes makers of F5-style mandolins.
    I fully understand where you are coming from in your comments here and also your previous comments. I don't completely agree with it but you but concede that you have a point. As well, certainly Gibson (although I will always be a faithful supporter and buyer of) is as poorly of a run company as you could reasonably find. In fact, I would not be surprised to find that Gibson is a example of how not to run a company in many business schools by now!

    You close with:"I genuinely don't understand why anyone would think instrument makers shouldn't base their own work on the best models they can find, if they so choose, as long as they're honest about the name the instrument bears. And that includes makers of F5-style mandolins."

    That would imply that instrument builders could borrow or use technology and ideas from other builders large or small as well as from Gibson and other big guys?

    You are a songwriter not an instrument builder. An not to make this personal in any way but I think sometimes one's perspective on these things relates to whose ox is being gored? For example, how do you feel about songwriters basing their compositions on the best models they can find and stealing a little bit here and there as long as they are honest about it and put their own name on it? Much differently I assume.
    Bernie
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  11. #457
    Registered User Gan Ainm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Bernie: "...one's perspective on these things relates to whose ox is being gored?"

    Agree- pragmatically (occupational perspective) AND metaphysically (sociopolitical views).
    Now if only stakeholders in the "Big" schisms in the country/world could all say "bugger all, lets play some tunes...".
    Gan Ainm
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  13. #458

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

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

    Do you consider that "questionable ethically"? Are those instrument makers showing a "lack of creativity"? Should they restrict themselves to "produc[ing] fine sounding instruments in different shapes"?

    I genuinely don't understand why anyone would think instrument makers shouldn't base their own work on the best models they can find, if they so choose, as long as they're honest about the name the instrument bears. And that includes makers of F5-style mandolins.
    Well, yes, I can distinguish between instruments who design evolved over 350 years ago and whose originator is lost in the wisp of time versus the specific design created in the 20th century, by a well known entity. Also, the violin and other instruments cited were created in a time where the contemporary notion of 'intellectual property' was vastly different, if it existed at all. And certainly classical/baroque/renaissance music is often desired to be played on historically accurate reproductions of instruments to allow people to hear the music of that day without risking the few surviving instruments. Given the lack of attribution, I have no issue with that. And I like those instruments to be labeled, as Stradivarius himself did, 'in the style of' on his earliest instruments. That doesn't appear in any of the Gibson discussion.

    Musical instruments are just another manufactured product, regardless of our emotional attachment to them, and the laws and ethics regarding copying them are no different than those protecting any other device (see Apple). I recognize its a very nuanced point to discuss the copying of works that may not be legally protected but clearly are another's design. I don't see any dispute on the point of the origin of design, nor the reason for utilizing it (couldn't sell a non Gibson shape). While many may see Gibson's failure to protect the property that was their design, for me, but not necessarily for you, I see that free use idea as an ethical challenge.

    And yes, luthiers should utilize their own designs and advance the state of the instruments instead of continually reproducing a century old design. I would think mandolin makers should be after better sound (whatever that may mean), rather than the best copy of the Gibson shape, which is largely the current state of mandolin building. I know, it's harder.

    The banjo allusion is another can of worms. caveat emptor.

    and we can disagree. I still like you.
    Play it like you mean it.

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  15. #459
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I was part of some of the efforts to protect their product, trademarks, etc by Gibson while I was there. There is a lot more to this than just emotions or wanting to kick the big dog. I was used as an expert witness in a case involving Gibson and a good friend of mine and a good dealer for many years. I did not seek to be part of that case, but I wasnít asked, I was ordered to be part. I simply told the truth as best I could. That was not going to hurt my friend, but I didnít know if it was any help. I had to deal with lots of counterfeits and that was often heartbreaking. In a number of instances we would have an instrument brought to us for warranty repair and the customer was completely convinced it was a real Gibson, but was not. In some cases they spent thousands of dollars on their instrument. I would have to inform them it could not be repaired under warranty because it was not a Gibson instrument. In some cases, after showing them how I knew, they left broken-hearted but did uunderstand. In some cases it was not so friendly. I had been called some things I had never heard before, and I was a sailor! I did not confiscate any instruments, but I could have. I also know some of the measures Gibson used to protect their product. Was it enough? I canít answer that. We will see, and our opinions as consumers will likely have little input on the issue. It can be fun to speculate, but I think it will finally be decided by a judge. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the issue. In a pure business level I would probably side with the holder of the trademarks, patents, etc. however, as a lover of all things mandolin, I want to be a bit more generous. One of the good parts of getting old is I donít have to have a dog in the fight. I have my mandolin and it is not part of any problem. I love the way it looks, the way it plays, and the way it sounds. While I donít do any customer work anymore, I can keep mine playing and sounding like I want. The hard part of the issues at hand in this post is that it applies to everyone and every product, especially since China stole most everything and began using others property rights to enrich the Chinese industry. Itís much larger than just musical instruments. What happens in our industry may well effect every industry. Back to Gibson, the new owners would be remiss if they did not fight to protect what they believes belongs to them. Itís unfortunate some wonderful builders may have to suffer some in the process, and some will just do something different so they donít have to enter the battle. Most of the mandolin builders have to almost kill them selves just to make a meager living and canít afford to get into a legal battle with Gibson, and Iím sure they know that. Anytime these fights break out there are few winners. Even the winner doesnít win much if they went broke to win. Well, good to say hi to all my friends on the cafe.
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

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  17. #460
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I have a neighbor who built a gold top Les Paul, even added a faithful Gibson Label. He never played it outside his living room. I once asked if he planned to sell it as a Gibson. He lowered his eyes as if I'd caught him planning something unethical, and slowly shook his head no. I saw him a year later and brought it up again, telling him he must never do that. I believe that once he understood that someone else thought it an unethical move and was willing to say so, he came around.

    I don't believe anyone responding to this long thread would smile on that guy if he cheated a customer by calling it a Gibson. But what about upsetting Gibson by copying everything from them down to the millimeter, but never adding a respectful call out to the source? This thread leaves me confused about answering that question.

    First of all, can we please stop killing the messenger of that video? It's called an ad hominem attack and it reflects more on you than the person you disparage. I hate this faceless and venal aspect of the internet.

    Second, I don't understand how anyone can disagree that Gibson has some right to defend some aspects of its historical instrument design? Yes, i do understand that the company has little leg to stand on by litigating instrument architecture or build materials because, as others have explained well, the company needed to start protecting their designs a very long time ago and regularly therefore. Or put another way, they needed to take lawful action before 1000 luthiers copied those designs, making everything innovated by Gibson not only universal but generic.

    I see one course of immediate action to show some respect to Gibson. Sincerely, I've never understood why luthiers faithfully copy Gibson inlay designs. Stealing inlay designs shows what happens when luthiers become anal in their copies, willing to even steal somebody else's original art. I'm now toying with quitting flying after being convinced by Swedish Greta's speeches. After reading selected pages of this thread, I've decided never to buy another mandolin that doesn't proudly display a unique inlay design.

    For me, this thread mostly demonstrates the obvious support luthiers have from our community of devoted customers. No one here wants to see small shop builders being sued and put out of business by Gibson's daydream (or dream) to reinvigorate its notable past. Especially if Gibson is now on its last legs, I think we all need to show respect to the Gibson name and also recognize that an awful lot of luthiers at least need to acknowledge that their business model is honed to precisely copy everything Gibson except the name.
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  19. #461

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    Especially if Gibson is now on its last legs, I think we all need to show respect to the Gibson name and also recognize that an awful lot of luthiers at least need to acknowledge that their business model is honed to precisely copy everything Gibson except the name.
    I think most luthiers respect the craft, skill, and innovations of the people making Gibson instruments from various eras. Starting with Orville himself, the original Gibson, all the way up through David Harvey and whomever else is doing good work bearing the Gibson name.

    Gibson as a business, is a completely separate entity from that which originally produced the best work done for the Gibson brand by smart, dedicated people over the years. And it has been several different entities, or "legal persons", over the years. You can love the Yankees, or hate 'em, but either way, DiMaggio ain't on the field anymore. What people are copying in F-5s, Les Pauls, etc, is from a different company which happens to have the same name. You can buy the name, but you have to earn the trust and respect.

    Fender is a good example of a company which has maintained (well, there were good days and bad days) a solid core of respectable products most of the time. I think Gibson could take back the helm by just making awesome products, rather than talking about how they used to make awesome products.

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  21. #462

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    First of all, can we please stop killing the messenger of that video? It's called an ad hominem attack and it reflects more on you than the person you disparage. I hate this faceless and venal aspect of the internet.
    From Merriam Webster:

    ad hominem adjective
    ad ho∑​mi∑​nem | \ (ˈ)ad-ˈhš-mə-ˌnem , -nəm\
    Definition of ad hominem (Entry 1 of 2)
    1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
    an ad hominem argument
    2 : marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made
    made an ad hominem personal attack on his rival.

    That pretty much sums up the substance (if you can call it that) of the Gibson video.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    ...Sincerely, I've never understood why luthiers faithfully copy Gibson inlay designs. Stealing inlay designs shows what happens when luthiers become anal in their copies, willing to even steal somebody else's original art... I've decided never to buy another mandolin that doesn't proudly display a unique inlay design.
    Never say never. I remember reading several of your posts describing your pride and happiness over your Japanese built KM-850. A beautiful F5 style instrument sporting a 'Fern' inlay. Gibson was still Gibson then and your (and my) Kentucky mandolins were still Gibson 'copies'. Evidently it was alright to proudly own what you and I owned then.

    It's admirable that you've now seen the light and refuse to participate in anything you deem disrespectful to Gibson. I however, am still happily admiring (coveting) the work of Gilchrist, Hutto, Wood etc, and yes even some of those old Kentuckys.

    Please be patient with my slower evolution.
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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  23. #463
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Big Joe,
    Once again your kind heart and judicious comprehension of things musical restores my faith in man’s innate compassion.

    There have always been counterfeiters who will attempt to beat the odds, poor copiers who may build terrible excuses for finery but, there are those who see the originals and see inspiration. Where some modern materials just might be an improvement. Those being as widespread as TI truss rods, modified tonebars, deeper sound chambers, narrower chambers, ad nauseum. These are not what I see as infringements but, adaptations from the root product. When there is no intent to deceive there should be no admonishment for the salute to the excellence of the original. Or is that a far too simple take on the issue?
    I most certainly have no canine interest in the whole thing but, the heavy handedness in the initial statement seems over the top on many fronts.
    Banjo necks!? I have known several very talented craftsman who have made necks for vintage banjo pots, there is precious little attempt to present any of those as “original” but, far more celebratory of what the company (Vega, etc.) had made but, in such small quantity as for them not to be available to some people seriously desiring them. Reproduction necks do not seem to be anywhere near the issue as “ tribute” mandolins? I’m sure this will play out for the next twenty years in many states of silliness.
    The cheap knockoff PAC rim Flying V, Les Paul, SG electrics,etc. are surely a greater pain than the F-5 will ever be. Selling thousands of F-5”ish” mandolins compared to the vastly greater millions of bad electric guitars does not bear the legal magnitude that this seems to be generating here.
    Yes the fight is nasty but, that’s business.
    Honor in business? Don’t even say it’s there anymore! Let alone think it!
    End rant.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  24. #464

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    Especially if Gibson is now on its last legs, I think we all need to show respect to the Gibson name and also recognize that an awful lot of luthiers at least need to acknowledge that their business model is honed to precisely copy everything Gibson except the name.
    Actually their business models are honed precisely to put food on the table, the fact that they are based upon Gibson designs from the 1920's is besides the point. Building instruments that are outside the popular patterns is a hard way to make a living, this is true for all string instrument types, not just mandolins.
    Eric Foulke
    Boots Mandolins

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  26. #465
    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
    Well, yes, I can distinguish between instruments who design evolved over 350 years ago and whose originator is lost in the wisp of time versus the specific design created in the 20th century, by a well known entity. Also, the violin and other instruments cited were created in a time where the contemporary notion of 'intellectual property' was vastly different, if it existed at all. And certainly classical/baroque/renaissance music is often desired to be played on historically accurate reproductions of instruments to allow people to hear the music of that day without risking the few surviving instruments. Given the lack of attribution, I have no issue with that. And I like those instruments to be labeled, as Stradivarius himself did, 'in the style of' on his earliest instruments. That doesn't appear in any of the Gibson discussion.

    Musical instruments are just another manufactured product, regardless of our emotional attachment to them, and the laws and ethics regarding copying them are no different than those protecting any other device (see Apple). I recognize its a very nuanced point to discuss the copying of works that may not be legally protected but clearly are another's design. I don't see any dispute on the point of the origin of design, nor the reason for utilizing it (couldn't sell a non Gibson shape). While many may see Gibson's failure to protect the property that was their design, for me, but not necessarily for you, I see that free use idea as an ethical challenge.

    And yes, luthiers should utilize their own designs and advance the state of the instruments instead of continually reproducing a century old design. I would think mandolin makers should be after better sound (whatever that may mean), rather than the best copy of the Gibson shape, which is largely the current state of mandolin building. I know, it's harder.
    Maybe builders of F5-style mandolins - or at least builders of high-end F5-style mandolins - could start including a notation on the label along the lines of "After a 1923 Gibson F-5" or whatever. I think that'd be pretty cool, myself. (By the same token, builders of dreadnought guitars could start giving Martin some sort of credit, no?) I guess in modern times it's just been kind of assumed that musicians know an F5-style mandolin is based on a Gibson original, but I agree that direct attribution the way Stradivari did would be a nice touch.

    The question of whether mandolin builders should make an F5 style at all, though, seems to come down to two points, legal and moral/ethical. It's been established already that Gibson has no legal monopoly on either the F5 body shape or headstock shape - they tried to trademark both, quite belatedly, and the applications were rejected - which leaves other mandolin builders quite free legally to make F5s (just not with Gibson's trademarked headstock inlay pattern, which is fair enough). That leaves us with the question of whether other makers should, ethically, make F5s, and it sounds like we might have to agree to disagree on that one.

    It seems to me, if I'm understanding you correctly, that your position is that only Gibson has the moral right to make F5s since that was their creation. (Well, the creation of a company called Gibson back in the 1920s, which has nothing in common with Gibson now except the name, but anyway.) Is that what you're saying, that only Gibson, and no one else, should make F5s? Correct me if I'm wrong, but "I see that free use idea as an ethical challenge" makes it sound that way.

    Luthiers "utilizing their own designs and advancing the state of the instruments instead of continually reproducing a century old design" and "being after better sound (whatever that may mean), rather than the best copy of the Gibson shape" are certainly worthy goals, and there are instrument makers (mandolin and other) thinking outside the box and coming up with new designs that they feel are improvements on what's gone before, but the fact is, a lot of mandolinists WANT instruments of that century-old design, just as violinists want the designs of Stradivari and Amati for what they do. Whether they're right or wrong to do so, they do. (After all, your point about classical/baroque/renaissance music being "often desired to be played on historically accurate reproductions of instruments to allow people to hear the music of that day without risking the few surviving instruments" is just as true about bluegrass, is it not?) And if they were restricted to only Gibson instruments, 1) there aren't enough to go around, and 2) the ones from the golden era of the 1920s have become insanely expensive and the ones since then vary wildly in quality.

    Well, I had a great time playing some bluegrass last night at the Swannanoa Gathering with a bunch of young musicians in their teens and twenties, and every single one of the mandolinists was playing F5 styles - I couldn't see in the dark what they were but I doubt they were Gibsons - so it would appear that that particular genie is out of the bottle and isn't going back in, regardless of what we think about the ethics of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    and we can disagree. I still like you.
    Glad to hear that. I still like you too. I'm finding this a fascinating conversation, and really am not trying to antagonize anyone; it's just that Gibson's recent actions have opened up discussion on a lot of points that are worth looking at.

  27. #466
    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 Jim Nollman View Post
    First of all, can we please stop killing the messenger of that video? It's called an ad hominem attack and it reflects more on you than the person you disparage. I hate this faceless and venal aspect of the internet.
    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    From Merriam Webster:

    ad hominem adjective
    ad ho∑​mi∑​nem | \ (ˈ)ad-ˈhš-mə-ˌnem , -nəm\
    Definition of ad hominem (Entry 1 of 2)
    1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
    an ad hominem argument
    2 : marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made
    made an ad hominem personal attack on his rival.
    Indeed. Responding specifically to specific public words and actions on the part of Mark Agnesi is not an ad hominem attack.

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  29. #467
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier communiten

    1. Mark Agnes went low in his role as PR rep for the current clueless regime at Gibson. Attacking him here seems a mirror image of that same tactic. Mark is not your problem.

    2. To the guy pointing out I once lavished praise on a Kentucky 850 I once owned, including its fern inlay, you totally missed my point. Or were you cherry picking my old posts to make me look like a hypocrite? Sincerely, I certainly did love that instrument. But I prefaced that inlay remark by saying I’m thinking about giving up flying as well. Both are pledges I've been making lately to alter my consumer choices trying to solve a problem. I wrote here rather late in the game, and only after noticing how many commenters assert that the problem lies 100% with Gibson. I believed a change of outlook was warranted.

    3. Yes, sorry, I do think Gibson actually makes a point well worth considering, even though the way they express it is nothing but vicious. The passion of this thread amply reflects all the ways they shoot themselves in the foot. I’m simply wondering if everyone here who benefits from the Gibson company achievement might consider a slightly more physical expression of that regard than they do right now. Take just one small step away from seeking the perfect copy. Taking this step has nothing whatsoever to do with kowtowing to the current Gibson regime. Keep on copying your F5s, snakeheads, etc. Its what customers request. But please consider not copying the inlay pattern. It has nothing to to do with the sound, although it breaches some historic artists original design. Someone above made a distinction between a copy and a counterfeit. Is the perfect fern the one or the other?
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Foulke View Post
    Actually their business models are honed precisely to put food on the table, the fact that they are based upon Gibson designs from the 1920's is besides the point. Building instruments that are outside the popular patterns is a hard way to make a living, this is true for all string instrument types, not just mandolins.

    I would hold that it is especially hard for mandolin-makers.

    For good or ill, the vast bulk of mandolins (still very much a niche instrument) in this country are Gibsons, or instruments in the Gibson pattern. Since mandolins have myriad forms, to design, build, and hope to sell a mandolin with a brand-new clean-sheet design is an invitation to starve. Blame it on Bill Monroe if you wish; without Monroe there would be even less interest in mandolins than there is at present.

    That said, it continues to amaze me that Gibson ignored two of their mandolin's most famous exemplars, Monroe and Grisman, which has created a certain deserved amount of ill-feeling. What was Gibson thinking? . . . if "thinking" is the verb I'm looking for.

  31. #469

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    This is a long thread that I've not read completely so bear with me if I repeat what's been already said.

    There are 2 IP rights being discussed in the article - copyright and trademark. Additionally these rights can be rights in common-law through actual use and rights derived from registration. Just because something isn't registered doesn't mean it isn't protected.

    Trademark law is jurisdictional. That means the US can only register a trademark for use within the US. Under normal circumstances it would end there but here's the kicker - the internet has all but destroyed jurisdictional boundaries. Since most people use US tech companies like Facebook and Google for their marketing and those companies must comply with US law what's now happening is holders of US registrations are able to extend the reach to encompass the connected world. The US government has been very assertive in forcing these companies back to US soil so they fall within US political control for just that reason. There's currently a global power-play underway for control of intellectual property that will have ramifications for generations to come.

    Copyrights are more or less global in that all signatories to the Berne Convention abide by the same rules which involves respecting the others registrations.

    While US trademark law stipulates three years of non-use is "prima-face" proof of abandonment, non-use must be accompanied by intent to abandon for a claim of abandonment to hold.
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    can we please stop killing the messenger of that video?
    It would be easier if that messenger was not so good at being a messenger of himself. A look at his other videos seems to confirm that bullying is a part of his personality (and when you've been beaten up as a child the one thing you resent is bullies, I can tell you that).
    That it seems to underline Gibson's message is more of a coincidence, making it run away on Gibson faster than they expected.
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Russ Jordan View Post
    Good point on the x-bracing. Makes me think Gil
    Having thought this through again and again. I think now it probably was a Gil. I haven't seen that many Givens with his name on the headstock and every Gilchrist I ever saw had his name on the headstock. That's really the only clue Steve gave in his message.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    While US trademark law stipulates three years of non-use is "prima-face" proof of abandonment, non-use must be accompanied by intent to abandon for a claim of abandonment to hold.
    Another proof of abandonment, established in case law, is a lack of enforcement of trademark exclusivity. In other words, if a company doesn't act to enforce its trademarks in the face of known claimed infringement, their demonstrable lack of enforcement is proof of abandoning the trademark to the public domain.

    Whether intentionally or not, you seem to be arguing that there are no possible abandonment conclusions without the trademark holder acknowledging wanting to do so. This violates the actual statute's conditions, and is counter to the law's purpose, protecting active trademarks as unique innovations while allowing unused and abandoned trademarks (including through absence of enforcement, as per statute and subsequent case law) to revert to the public domain for furtherance of the art in general.

    In this case, we're talking about more than a few decades wherein Gibson demonstrably declined to enforce trademark, so that is *prima facie* proof of abandonment given that it is far beyond the 2-3 years you acknowledged.

    ----

    I *am* interested in reading further claims which acknowledge *all* the factors against Gibson's claims, and which still successfully make a case regarding Gibson having fulfilled all the requirements for successful trademark retention. Even just acknowledging the facts I present in this one post however, that seems impossible.

    Cheers!

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Thinking of how a court case about the F5 would go, you could argue that Gibson alway made F5's, even if only custom orders, except for the war years, but could a judge be persuaded that a 70's example was not actually what people were copying even though it had all the things that make an F5, scroll, points, peghead, etc?

  36. #474

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    Another proof of abandonment, established in case law, is a lack of enforcement of trademark exclusivity. In other words, if a company doesn't act to enforce its trademarks in the face of known claimed infringement, their demonstrable lack of enforcement is proof of abandoning the trademark to the public domain.

    Whether intentionally or not, you seem to be arguing that there are no possible abandonment conclusions without the trademark holder acknowledging wanting to do so. This violates the actual statute's conditions, and is counter to the law's purpose, protecting active trademarks as unique innovations while allowing unused and abandoned trademarks (including through absence of enforcement, as per statute and subsequent case law) to revert to the public domain for furtherance of the art in general.

    In this case, we're talking about more than a few decades wherein Gibson demonstrably declined to enforce trademark, so that is *prima facie* proof of abandonment given that it is far beyond the 2-3 years you acknowledged.
    Not meaning to get into a tit-for-tat but I would like to make a few points for clarification:

    - The purpose of the Lanham Act, which governs US trademarks, is to protect consumers from confusion as to the source of the goods. It doesn't deal with innovation, and etc. It is consumer protection law.

    - AFAIK the concept of "public domain" only relates to copyright. Your point "revert to the public domain for furtherance of the art in general" is irrelevant to a trademark proceeding - this concept applies to copyright only.

    - The only enforcement required is against those building in the US. Gibson has rights in other nation-states but each needs to be pursued individually.

    - Each case turns on its own merits and we don't know what Gibson has been doing and to whom vis-a-vis R&D, sales and enforcement. While a prima-face case for abandonment may be made in the pleadings, the TTAB will look at all the evidence and generally strives to make decisions based on the merits of each individual case.

    Gibson creating and distributing a video asserting its rights, which is what started this thread, qualifies as "enforcement."

    The TTAB stresses a "common sense" approach in its adjudications and holders of a valid mark are given due-regard as to their intentions unless it can be proven otherwise.

    Fender lost its case for the Stratocaster body shape so who knows. As with all things legal, you have better odds at a slot machine.
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    In another interesting travel through mandolin artistry, there are a few who have dared violate all that Loar purists may hold important. I am a Loar purist in the ways I can afford to be. However, I really do want to thank Steve Sorensen for his excellent work that offers incredible tone and his finish work makes me miss the smell of varnish in the morning. I don’t recall having met Steve, and I have never played an instrument birthed by him. I have heard some of the best using them and speaking very high about him and his work. Danny Roberts surely knows mandolins. I have known Danny nearly thirty years and he has had and played the best. He loves his Sorenson. I mention this because it addresses an important aspect of mandolin building. We discussed this with builders and consumers and most were solidly behind the idea of something different, they would not likely purchase them. Most want the best and the F5 mandolin is the goal of most mandolin players, including me. If I could ever afford a Sorenson I think I would get rid of my Gibson. That is a hard concept for me to consider. Of course, I am pretty safe from that ever happening. I’m too old and too broke to view me as purchasing another mandolin. Some of the best makers have found little ways to express their view of the F5. A couple examples are Tom Ellis and his use of Western Maple. It I’d beautiful when Tom completes them with his perfect finish work and incredible sound. Will Kimble has made some great 2 points and now some great looking head stocks. These are not the only ones, but they are examples of excellent luthiers who dared buck hypertraditionalism. Much of what is discussed in this thread has been discussed to death. We discussed this for hours when Gibson was sending cease and desist letters then. I am thrilled to have a decent mandolin, but I am just as thrilled to see new builders dare to do new things and do it with excellence.
    Have a Great Day!
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