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Thread: Danger of imitating an inlay logo/brand?

  1. #1

    Default Danger of imitating an inlay logo/brand?

    As a novice who one day would like to produce instruments that actual musicians play, I've been considering what my brand and resulting peghead inlay would look like. I've tried my hand at complicated designs. It is not my forte, and it's also not the part of the project that I enjoy most. So I'm going for something simple like an outlined shape.

    My last name--Putnam--is derived from "putta" meaning "kite" (the predatory bird, not the children's toy) and "ham" meaning village or town. I've always loved raptors--hawks, falcons, etc. are my favorite animals. So I thought this was fortuitous.

    My idea was a simple outline of the bird. Nothing fancy.

    However, I have seen at least one other luthier--and for the life of me I cannot remember who--use a similar symbol. I think a hawk or falcon or something. And I'm wondering about the ethical (and legal???) implications of accidentally adopting a similar image.

    Do any of you have experience with this or guidance? How closely guarded are peghead designs, in particular (apart from business logos, I mean)? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2020

    Default Re: Danger of imitating an inlay logo/brand?

    Regardless of what's legal or not, you should come up with something that uniquely identifies your brand that you can be proud of. Hire a graphic designer that understands branding and illustration if you need to. Totally worth it if you want to appear professional.
    2001 Collings MT2 - #74
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Danger of imitating an inlay logo/brand?

    PRS Guitars are known for the bird logo on their fingerboards as fret markers.

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  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Westchester, NY

    Default Re: Danger of imitating an inlay logo/brand?

    Unless you copy that logo of that bird exactly there should be no problem. Same with letters, if you copy someone else's monogram on the headstock exactly. If you use a different font, it should not be a problem.

    On the other hand you have Givson Guitars, an Indian company that has been around for years yet uses a direct ripoff of another guitar company.

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  5. #5
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Oct 2002
    San Diego, CA

    Default Re: Danger of imitating an inlay logo/brand?

    Unless you're just wanting to do everything 100% by yourself there are plenty of companies that will cut the inlay for you.

  6. #6
    Registered User Denis Kearns's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    west coast

    Default Re: Danger of imitating an inlay logo/brand?

    Seagull Guitars uses a seagull in a circle for the headstock logo. It’s a nice design. They are a Canadian company that also makes some moderately-priced, interestingly-shaped mandolins. I have no experience with their mandolins, but I have a really nice parlor guitar from Seagull - part of their top of the line “Artist Series”. Plays like a dream and is small enough to fit in the luggage compartment of even the smaller, puddle-jumper planes. The Artist Series used to have abalone within the circle, but apparently no longer, judging from their website. This is the headstock from my Seagull parlor.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Have fun designing your logo. There are some really nice ones out there. Check out Phil Crump’s instruments. His logo is a stylized monogram with a botanical motif. As a botanist, I thought this was pretty cool.

    - Denis (And yes, that’s spelled correctly....)

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