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Fender loses trademark suit

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Shepherd, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. Shepherd

    Shepherd Friend of Leo's

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    Apparently the courts deemed the Fender body shapes as generic so now anyone is free to make exact duplicates. Probably going to see a whole wack of cheap copies for sale now.
    http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=91162497&pty=OPP&eno=13
     
  2. ajmikula

    ajmikula TDPRI Member

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    No big surprise there...what they -can- (and do) enforce is the headstock shape. I think they've been trying to find some way to stop copies of the body for awhile, but it's too late at this point to make a case.
     
  3. freewater2000

    freewater2000 TDPRI Member

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    Man what was Leo thinking when he developed the Tele then Strat....Two best guitars ever made
     
  4. JDRNoPro

    JDRNoPro Friend of Leo's

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    Very interesting reading..........the record and testimony talks about various manufacturers and builders freely admitting to tracing Fender bodies and producing copies for decdes. Appears that since Fender didn't try to assert trademark of their shapes until 2003, after decades of copying, the Court felt the body shapes have become "generic" in the legal sense.
     
  5. pengipete

    pengipete Friend of Leo's

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    What stands out for me is the comments from the panel that the average guitarist would be unable to recognise the guitar shapes as belonging to a Strat or Tele...

    "While it may be that the more knowledgeable consumers (professional musicians, authors or retailers) are familiar with the history and origin of these shapes, i.e., Leo Fender, based on the multitude of third-party sources for these body outlines and applicant’s failure to promote or police these outlines as trademarks, this record does not support a finding that consumers with varying degrees of knowledge would or could identify the source of a particular guitar based solely on the outline of these body configurations. "

    It makes me think that the decision was made by people totally removed from the world of guitars. Anyone with even a passing interest in guitars would recognise those body shapes and would know them by their Fender names.

    I'm not sure if I want Fender to win this case but I reckon that they've got strong grounds for appeal.
     
  6. Tim73

    Tim73 Friend of Leo's

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    No surprise really. Co-incidentally, the Metropolitan Police in England lost a case recently concerning the trademark of Police phone boxes as it was connected with Dr. Who. Fender would have done better if it had been trademarked YEARS ago.
     
  7. Joe Gioielli

    Joe Gioielli TDPRI Member

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    Copywright, trademake laws is very strange. We read stories in the paper of Disney suing a pre school because it has a mickey Mouse painted on the wall and we think how terriable. But the truth is, they have to. You have to demonstrate to the court that you have actively tried to enfore your rights. Otherwise, you are SOL. Kleenex, Xerox, and Winnebago are in the same boat. If your publish a story using any of those words you will get a letter from their lawyers asking you to say, copy, tissue amd rv.

    Then you have China that simply doesn't respect copywright laws.

    The only issue I have is the fake name decale. I wouldn't do that.

    Personally, I'd like to see new designs. I think it is sad that 90% of guitars look like teles, strats, of LPs.

    The
     
  8. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    You are might be right. They'll certainly appeal. FMIC attorneys (as long as they can get funded) will drag this baby out - eventually the others will be desperate enough to get some closure the case will be settled for the time being, with no issues having been satisfactorily resolved. Status Quo Ante.
     
  9. garrett

    garrett Tele-Afflicted

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    I believe what they're getting at there is, by looking at body shape alone, the average player wouldn't be able to definitively say "That's a Fender." It could be a G&L, ESP, etc, etc, etc. Because Fender let it go on for so long, the shapes became generic and no longer distinctively Fender.
     
  10. pengipete

    pengipete Friend of Leo's

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    I think you're right but I reckon that Fender are saying that the only reason they can't identify the shape a belonging to a manufacter is because there are so many copies. Most guitarists - and many non-guitarists - would look at a silhouette of those body shapes and would say "Stratocaster" or "Telecaster" and that is enough to relate them to the Fender name.

    I definitely agree with what Joe wrote - I'd like to see more variety in the shops. It all gets a bit samey after a while and the only stand-out gutars tend to be the likes of the B C Rich ones which are rather extreme.

    Perhaps it's just that us guitarists are a conservative bunch - especially us Tele lovers.
     
  11. mochimike

    mochimike TDPRI Member

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    There are not more varieties cause companies can play it safe and rip off Leo's tried and true designs. Granted , I really appreciate the cottage industry built around Leo's designs. In fact, i think the best Telecasters are not made by Fender. But Fender came up with these timeless shapes , and should be able to get license fees for the body designs.
     
  12. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    There are alot of other guitars with the same body shape as Fender what they really care about is the headstock design.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2009
  13. MulliganChebichev

    MulliganChebichev Tele-Afflicted

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    They had suits against WD and Warmoth, makes me wonder what the whole "Licensed by Fender" deal is.
     
  14. Rabog

    Rabog Former Member

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    Sounds like the ones making very good copies got a license agreement, and Fender got a piece of their action! Fender sometimes don't do themselves any favours in the PR department!

    This coming from a signed up Fender fan.
     
  15. Big John

    Big John RIP

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    Yeah, i guess if they had made a fuss when it first started happening in the 60's they could have TM'd their body shapes, it's a bit late after 40 years.
     
  16. Gary in Boston

    Gary in Boston Friend of Leo's

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    Hmmmm what about Gibson? Didn't they stop PRS's single cut for its close look to their LP? And won I think? I have seen Fender copies as far back as 1969 when I worked in a small music store. In fact Aria made a decent copy of a LP Black Beauty around 1971 that I owned with no script on the headstock which of course we had to get mother of pearl contact paper and make a Gibson logo as soon as possible. We even made our logos Gibsan with an A as a joke I own a 1950's Vega that looks like an LP jr. Maybe this is why Rondo headstocks are so quirky

    Gary
     
  17. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    In my opinion Fender has a real world point . Still they may wind up losing in the long run . I remember when Harley was trying to trademark the sound made by their engines . Somehow the Fender issue seems common sense by comparison .
     
  18. pengipete

    pengipete Friend of Leo's

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    If Fender win they may have the right to demand payment from every company that produces guitars using those body shapes and demand payment for each guitar sold over the last 40 years.

    This would obviously mean the closure of most companies as getting a bill that is effectively back-dated for 40 years and covers huge numbers of guitars would be beyond the means of almost any company.

    I can't see any court allowing this to happen. It would be far too damaging to the entire industry and has the potential to clog the courts for decades at enormous public cost.

    It almost sounds like the story (urban legend pehaps) that Microsoft deliberately allowed and encouraged pirated copies of Windows on the basis that they would let people get so used to having it on their computers that they would buy a copy when Microsoft finally switched off the pirate copies. By doing this they also made sure that no-one used alternative operating systems and Microsoft bided their time until there was no competition left.

    It looks suspiciously like Fender have played a waiting game with the long term aim of being the only player left in the game by default.

    They may have a legal claim to those designs but I question their timing and motives and I hope that they lose. If nothing else it might force Fender to raise their own standards to justify their prices and still compete against other similar guitars many of which are now as good as or better than Fenders.
     
  19. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Interesting that Gibson didn't file an objection to the Telecaster as a "Single-Cut" guitar back in 1948 when the prototype first appeared. Didn't the Les Paul shape pre-date the Tele? I could be wrong, but I thought the "log" was the first patented solid body guitar. If this is true, the Les Paul would be the "prior-art"
    to the Telecaster. No?
     
  20. Jazzmasterfan

    Jazzmasterfan Tele-Meister

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    If Fender had trademarked the body and neck shapes decades ago this situation wouldn't have happened. Unfortunately for them, such action wasn't taken and by the time they got round to it only six years ago it was too late.
     
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