Prince's Estate demands luthier stop building cloud guitars

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by whitebread, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. whitebread

    whitebread Tele-Meister

    Jun 25, 2007
    No. VA (Wash D.C.)
    joe_cpwe likes this.
  2. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 6, 2012
    North of Boston
    I hope the dude wins. It's his guitar design.
  3. unixfish

    unixfish Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 20, 2013
    Northeast Ohio, USA
    It is almost comical how greedy the estates of passed musicians can seem. No comment from the lawyer seems to imply "we got nuttin', but we are looking for a big payday." Well, one guy making custom guitars, even at a significant cut, does not add up to much.

    Of course, there is probably another side to the story - oh, that's right, no comment...
    Chunkocaster, coloradojeff and ftbtx like this.
  4. beach bob

    beach bob Friend of Leo's

    Jan 31, 2008
    South Florida
    I'm glad Doug Irwin doesn't see things that way. There are several high end builders doing great reproductions of Jerry Garcia's iconic guitar models...

    In this David vs. Goliath story, I'm rooting for David. His design; he oughta be able to sell something that is his creation.
    Chunkocaster likes this.
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    Instead of selling it as Prince's Cloud Guitar rename it
    "Princess Veil Guitar",
    "Baron Obfuscate Guitar",
    "The Guitar Previously Known as Prince's"

    or something...

    There is a whole Thesaurus of titles out there.

  6. Shuster

    Shuster Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Oct 31, 2018
    South Texas
    Good ugly guitars anyway!
    bender66 likes this.
  7. bcorig

    bcorig Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Mar 11, 2018
    Chino Hills CA
    “The Guitar Previously Known as Prince's” THAT is great. Yet, so obvious. Nice!
  8. Cantbreak100guy

    Cantbreak100guy Tele-Meister

    May 20, 2018
    The Paisley Park Tour business must not be making much money right now. The estate wants a cut of the guitar sales. What a bunch of freeloaders.
    And, who the hell would pay 8 grand for one of the ugliest guitars I've ever seen?
    RedHills likes this.
  9. Blrfl

    Blrfl Tele-Meister

    May 3, 2018
    Northern Virginia
    The other side might be that the original design was a work for hire, in which case Prince's estate would rightfully own it. Patent & Trademark's mantra these days is "grant 'em all and let the courts sort 'em out," so just because it was granted doesn't mean it's valid.

    In any case, the article's pretty short on information. I'd like to see what was in the letter.

    Don't read too much into the last line of the article. It isn't unusual for a news outlet to call someone for comment and run with the "no response" line if they don't call back in an hour or two.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
  10. unixfish

    unixfish Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 20, 2013
    Northeast Ohio, USA
    Fair enough.

    So, the system is broken - and it is up to the courts to figure it out? It sounds like a consortium of lawyers lobbied for "grant 'em all and let the courts sort 'em out". Because who is the real winner here?

    Thanks for the update - it explains a lot.
  11. unixfish

    unixfish Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 20, 2013
    Northeast Ohio, USA
    ...not unlike drug companies driving health care policies...
    nojazzhere likes this.
  12. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 11, 2006
    Greater Boston
    "Last month Rusan says he received a letter from Paisley Park lawyers asking him to give up the trademark."

    Everything is negotiable $$$
    Lef T likes this.
  13. Mike SS

    Mike SS Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 9, 2012
    If I was him I would sell them the trademark. $$$$$$$ There is a nice retirement fund.
    Mike Simpson likes this.
  14. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

    Aug 28, 2018
    A ton of the guitars on his page have prince symbols on them, and the word Prince appears with them.

    I can't side with anyone aside from the fact that if the guitar is his design and he doesn't put the prince symbol on them or prince on any of his literature (which might be a problem because it won't be clear to collectors that's the same maker as prince used), then I can't see why he'd be in any legal trouble to keep making them.

    Using prince's name or showing that strange prince symbol could be trouble.

    I think the guitars look great - not traditional, but they have nice scrolls on them and some nice carving and the hardware looks sublime.

    The reason I say I can't side with anyone is that in obscure trade dress type issues, there's probably precedence that if the estate doesn't protect their trade dress for some things, they won't be able to protect it for others. That was a big deal with the PRS, Les Paul and Gibson banjos (now defunct) legal fights. Failure to protect your trade dress sort of makes it public property - you can't just pick and choose.

    I hope there's a way for him to recover legal fees if the prince estate loses. This is far different than a random custom maker starting to make that style.

    As for who would pay $8k? Not the average buyer, but there are a lot of collectors of both prince stuff and famous guitar types. It's probably a good place to put money if you're in a high tax bracket - who collects taxes on guitar appreciation every year?
  15. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 21, 2011
    Just when i thought I would at last realize a cherished dream along comes this. I was only $799.97 away!
  16. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

    Aug 28, 2018
    I don't think we're getting accurate information. After a little bit of reading, here's what I see:
    * the original guitar was based on a bass design that someone else made - prince requested a guitar like it and the maker freelanced a little bit to make it his own (he didn't make the orignial bass, though).
    * the maker continued to make guitars (but not just the cloud guitar) and has made other types
    * schechter appears (perhaps among others) to have made this same cloud guitar (you can buy one on reverb if it turns you on - they're not $8k, but not cheap, either). Anyone guessing there weren't royalties involved there?
    * the original maker just recently trademarked the guitar
    * the prince estate appears to be challenging his trademark (which as a layman, I'd guess is not the same thing as saying he can't make the guitar. They probably just don't want him to have exclusive rights to the design)

    Can't see those guitars being a big seller, but they might be worth some revenue to the estate if they can license a version to korea and then sell it for $1500. There will be problems doing that if the maker mentioned above has a trademark.

    Another article says schechter is still making the guitar, and the article says Rusan said "demand has picked up since prince died". He got a trademark for the guitar, and then applied for the words "cloud guitar"

    As a non attorney - it suggests to me that he's trying to get exclusive rights to make the guitar and call it cloud guitar. If the schecter guitar is paying royalties to the estate, i could very easily see why they have a problem. I would, too.

    I don't see anything clearly stating that the estate told him to stop building them. that is FAR different, but I guess reality and nuance doesn't make for as good of a news story as clickbait and "let's fight for the little guy...rah rah!!" (when the "little guy" may just be looking to squeeze out other folks who cut in on his sales).

    I hope the estate wins on the trademark and both parties can continue to make the guitar.
    Buckocaster51 likes this.
  17. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 11, 2006
    Near Athens GA USA
    Marvin Gaye's estate owns all the rights to the chords in Prince's songs so they have to get some money somewhere.
  18. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2009
    I don't have a dog in the fight for Rusan versus the estate, but what Schecter says is interesting.

    We truly appreciate your interest in Prince and his Schecter Guitars. Unfortunately, we have never publicly sold guitars that we made for Prince. He has always custom ordered them from us exclusively for his own use. Only one time during the "Hit and Run Tour" did he have Schecter create a production run of guitars that he sold exclusively at his shows. This was the one and only time this was done and was with the “Cloud" style guitar. All guitars shown on our website are purely to commemorate the works that we created for him.

    We have always respected his wishes to not recreate the guitars and resell them, and we will continue to do so. We thank you and appreciate your understanding.
    Paul in Colorado likes this.
  19. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 19, 2006
    Gilbert, AZ (PHX)
    Patent for sale... One Million Dollars...
  20. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

    Aug 28, 2018
    I think the estate is in the right to contest the trademark in this case. Prince sold those guitars, there's a history of him doing it without legal challenge, and now the maker of the original guitar (which was a version of another bass that prince brought to him - far different than a situation where he created the guitar and prince bought one off the rack) is trademarking the guitar and the name.

    IIRC, Gaye's estate was bought by someone as an investment - is that right? What's the situation with Prince's? If someone invests in buying rights, they're going to maximize their return on that.
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