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PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 9:19 pm 
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Walnut
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Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:01 pm
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First name: Tony
Last Name: Di Gregorio
Country: Canada
I'm a hobby builder and a friend ask me to make a Les Paul Special with P90s. I'm not selling commercially but wondering if I was, what the implications of selling guitars that look like the originals? My name will be on the headstock, but can I put a decal that says Les Paul Special down the middle? I'm not too up on the rules. Any help greatly appreciated.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2020 6:33 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma
First name: Roger
State: Oklahoma
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Technically, the companies have trademarks on the names and headstock shapes. So make the headstock shape significantly different. And DON'T put an LP decal on it. It's not a Les Paul.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2020 6:45 pm 
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you could call it a "Less Paul Special" :)

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http://jameswattsguitars.com


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2020 7:04 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
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First name: Freeman
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A couple of years ago Gibson's new CEO issued some sort of legal ultimatum

viewtopic.php?f=10123&t=52054&hilit=gibson+lawsuit

I really don't care because I will never make a copy of a Gibson (why would I want to?) but they did publish a whole long list of names and shapes that are trade marked, copyrighted or otherwise protected. Whether they would go after a small time builder who choses to put one of these names on his guitar is unknown. My suggestion is either don't do it (your guitar is not a Les Paul Special, don't pretend it is) or if you choose to do it have your attorney give you advice.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2020 8:23 pm 
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Gibson goes after deep pockets..... If you're broke, no worries. OR - don't charge for your LP copies.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2020 9:40 pm 
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Koa
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RogerC108 wrote:
Technically, the companies have trademarks on the names and headstock shapes. So make the headstock shape significantly different. And DON'T put an LP decal on it. It's not a Les Paul.

This is correct. The US courts have decided that names and headstock shape can be protected by copyright. Not so with body shape — in that area you are free to make an exact copy.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2020 9:50 pm 
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Koa
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In very broad terms, intellectual property in guitars is limited to those elements that identify WHO made the guitar, not so much HOW the guitar works.

If you make a guitar that might lead people to think someone else made it, you might have a problem. If you make a guitar that functions like another guitar you are generally OK.

There is also no independent intellectual property police. So the added element is that it is up to you if someone makes a guitar that confuses people into thinking it is one of your guitars. So there is a cost/benefit analysis involved there too.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2020 12:17 am 
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Cocobolo
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Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 1:40 pm
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Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma
First name: Roger
State: Oklahoma
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So here's a mistake a lot of us small builders make...

It starts as a hobby. Then next thing you know, you've got folks who want to buy your guitars, so you build and sell them. Then more people want some, so you build and sell them. All of a sudden you have a business, but you've not done your due diligence and created an LLC. You're a sole proprietorship. It's ok, though, because you're small potatoes, and you're not on anyone's radar, so it's ok (at least you think it is). Then one day you get a C&D from one of the big names because you've infringed on their copyrights, and they have proof in the form of the pictures you've posted on social media and/or your website, and they've seen the posts you've made on internet forums. Then your butt puckers because you're a sole proprietorship and realize they could go after anything you own to compensate for the damages that their high-priced lawyers have calculated.

Was it worth it just because you figured it was ok to infringe on their copyrights because you REALLY wanted to put Les Paul on your headstock?

Infringing on copyrights is wrong. I don't care who owns the IP. I'm not a fan of Gibson the company in any way, but they have a legal right to what is theirs.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2020 12:42 am 
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Back in the 80's Geoff Gould at Modulus Graphite once sent me a cease & desist order because he had heard through the grapevine that I was thinking about making graphite guitar necks on the side. Color me surprised... Apparently, they were owned by Hughes Tool (yes - Howard Hughes), and the whole law department was supposedly poised to slice my throat in court..... Despite the fact that all I did was buy a used pizza oven for $100, and ask my brother if it was possible to make molds from fiberglass cloth and plaster of paris (the answer was yes). I figured I could buy carbon fiber cloth from the many suppliers here in town serving the aircraft industry. Wouldn't even need a vacuum pump to make necks strong enough for guitars. Needless to say - I dropped the idea and sold the pizza oven.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:00 pm 
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Mahogany
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Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:19 am
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Location: St. Charles MO
First name: Karl
Last Name: B
State: MO
Zip/Postal Code: 63303
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Here's something of interest:

Fender Musical Instruments Corp. v. Swade. If you don't have time to read the whole thing: Court fines guitar builder $50,000 plus Fender's legal fees. Fender served this Nashville builder, Kelton Swade, a cease and desist order to stop selling his Fender clone "vintage replicas" with headstocks that violate Fender's trademarked design. Swade settled out of court with Fender, signing an agreement to disjoin from selling guitars "in any way similar to" Fenders protected designs. He made very small changes making his clones "sufficiently distinguishable" from Fender: Contempt of court- $50,000 + Fender's legal fees and court costs. Language is important boys and girls: "in any way similar to".

https://casetext.com/case/fender-musical-instruments-corp-v-kelton-swade-individually-kelton-swade-llc?fbclid=IwAR0-o4CoOtlDyj-uNAn74Qb1pcS4-diZPwiyB8QdyOfZKyU-eHgXT8-vpnc

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:50 pm 
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Koa
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Location: United States
City: Tyler
State: Texas
That was in the terms of his settlement with Fender. I don’t know if it would apply to all design patents. Would it? Good read and interesting for all of us; especially if you build strat clones. Beware.


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