Gibson Loses Its Firebird Guitar Body Shape Trademark in The EU

Lem714

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...and the paragraphs
Yeah... that’s the wife again. And bloody iPads. I’ve got an English degree and this is one of the rare occasions I decided to say ‘screw it, nobody cares’, but there you are, for which you have both my gratitude and apologies.
Mulling this topic over in my mind I still can’t help thinking that, aside from some dreadful decisions Gibson made in the last decade or so, the real killer, the one that has always annoyed me, is the sheer price of a ‘real’ Les Paul. No matter how much I love them I have never been able to shake the feeling that you are just paying for the Gibson name. I will need to be significantly richer to be able to get a GLP and not feel the pinch. When one looks at other manufacturers, brands I just dont want to play, you can get their mid to top end models for the entry price of a GLP. As I said in my first post I did buy the LP Futura, and whilst the neck was nicely tapered, all the other stuff was rubbish, even though I thought it looked like a cool guitar. I probably would have kept it were it not for the major design fault of the P90 neck pickup being set so low. The robot tuners were rubbish though. But it was twice the price of a FSC or Tele. This is my long winded way of saying ’if Gibson hadn’t priced people out of the market they wouldn’t have gone bust and they wouldn’t need to worry about this trademark/patent stuff’.
 

RAG7890

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Gibson has not learned the basics of intellectual property law. The rule is first invent the item. Then apply for this protection. And finally, sell the product to the public. One does not invent the product, then sell it to the public, and after half a century apply for this protection. That just don’t work!
Zungle,

As I understand the facts, Gibson had NO FORM of patent, trademark, or copyright os the body shape of the V and Explorer for about 50 years after they were first sold to the public. If my understanding is correct, Gibson is more than just a little late in trying to assert rights it never had.
D, you are 150% right here..............could not have said it better myself. :thumbs::applause::applause::applause::applause::applause:

Many do not understand the basics of intellectual property law & it would appear that Gibson's Legal Representatives don't either OR (most likely) are just clipping the ticket, on the way through for the ride, with some hefty fees.

:cheers2:
 

Bill Hicklin

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Zungle,

As I understand the facts, Gibson had NO FORM of patent, trademark, or copyright os the body shape of the V and Explorer for about 50 years after they were first sold to the public. If my understanding is correct, Gibson is more than just a little late in trying to assert rights it never had.

Well, that's not really accurate. Gibson applied for design patents on the Vee and Futura-Explorer (and Moderne) in June 1957 (subsequently granted), so they did actually have protection until the patents expired. But the Firebird? Never.
 

Dolebludger

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Bill,

Good information. When did those design patents expire?
 

Bill Hicklin

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Bill,

Good information. When did those design patents expire?

The patents issued January 7, 1958, so they expired at the end of the 14th calendar year (the DP term before 1995), so on 31 December 1972.

In other words, shortly before Dean started making them. And a long, long time before Gibson tried to trademark them.

____________________

If Gibson had tried to get a design patent on the Firebird, it likely would have been blocked by Fender given its similarity to the Jazzmaster shape.
 

Wuggis

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I'd just like to draw everyone's attention to this guitar which pre-dates the gibson Les Paul and fender strat.
I'm sure you can see from this image that neither Gibson's body shape or fenders head stock designs are remotely original.
So just like bill gates borrowing DOS from the Xerox company it seems not to matter if you invented something so much as how much money you can throw at lawyers to protect your interests
20191222_095632.jpg
 

PermissionToLand

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I got it. I was being sarcastic after reading this guy play Dora Zuntov and Ted McCarty all rolled into one.
Well, I work in industrial design, and am heavily inspired by McCarty, Bill Mitchell And Larry Shinoda (who designed the Vettes Zora worked on; Zora was an engineer). Not sure why you'd feel the need to be tersely combative and sarcastic because someone made a clearly stated argument using their words...
 
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Brians Evil Twin

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As I've said from the start, the new kids at Gibson just do not seem to understand trademark and patent law.

If you actually read the complaint, it looks like a college term paper, full of old magazine, album, and book photos that prove absolutely nothing except a naive belief that if you want something badly enough, a court (in this case a jury) will ignore all previous USPTO laws and side with you.

I don't know if they're going through the motions to appease investors or they are just plain ignorant of USPTO law. Either way, they never had and never will have a chance to make any of this stick. None of it original, and none of it is trademarkable. And you don't need to be a patent attorney to know this.
 
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LtDave32

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I'd just like to draw everyone's attention to this guitar which pre-dates the gibson Les Paul and fender strat.
I'm sure you can see from this image that neither Gibson's body shape or fenders head stock designs are remotely original.
So just like bill gates borrowing DOS from the Xerox company it seems not to matter if you invented something so much as how much money you can throw at lawyers to protect your interestsView attachment 427980
Funny thing about Paul Bigsby.. He was sticking his necks on Gibson J200 acoustics, way back in the 1950s. Don't know why, but he did. Maybe he felt he owned those too?
 

oicu812

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Well, I work in industrial design, and am heavily inspired by McCarty, Bill Mitchell And Larry Shinoda (who designed the Vettes Zora worked on; Zora was an engineer). Not sure why you'd feel the need to be tersely combative and sarcastic because someone made a clearly stated argument using their words...

Well that is outstanding! I am certain McCarty and Mitchell would be thrilled. Go back and read your post dude, and then come again with who was "tersely combative" and "sarcastic".

Zuntov, sometimes referred to as the "father of the Corvette" was an engineer, but he also participated in design based on performance, and carried more weight than Mitchell in some respects because of the performance desires of Chevrolet. He in fact killed the split window design of 1963 and also shortened the longer hood design of Mitchell.

So to the point that has been beaten to death, Gibson did in fact originate these designs. Perhaps they don't have a claim this late in the game to some or all of them, but it seems they are trying to keep their legacy intact as THE source for examples of instruments from the original builder of those designs.
 

Bill Hicklin

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So to the point that has been beaten to death, Gibson did in fact originate these designs. Perhaps they don't have a claim this late in the game to some or all of them, but it seems they are trying to keep their legacy intact as THE source for examples of instruments from the original builder of those designs.

Gibson originated the Firebird design? That would be news to Leo Fender.
 

Brians Evil Twin

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So to the point that has been beaten to death, Gibson did in fact originate these designs. Perhaps they don't have a claim this late in the game to some or all of them, but it seems they are trying to keep their legacy intact as THE source for examples of instruments from the original builder of those designs.
Perhaps if they spent less time and money on futile pursuits that make them look greedy and ignorant, and more time and money on building positive customer and industry perceptions they'd be better off. As it stands, they stepped in shit and now they are poorer and look like assholes to boot.
 

CB91710

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Funny thing about Paul Bigsby.. He was sticking his necks on Gibson J200 acoustics, way back in the 1950s. Don't know why, but he did. Maybe he felt he owned those too?
And honestly, the Bigsby design has more in common with the CBS-era large headstock than the original Fender, and is even further removed from the original Broadcaster/Tele/Esquire design.
Bigsby can maybe claim that Leo took his idea for 6-in-line tuners which is functional in improved tuning stability.
 

Dolebludger

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Oh, from the facts available to me it appears that Gibson did originate the V and Firebird body designs, but failed to secure continuing protection of them if so, they do not lawfully own the designs. Period.
 

Dolebludger

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CB,

Your post raises another important issue.How similar does one body shape have to be to another to be an infraction? The Jazzmaster shape is SIMILAR to the firebird, but no where near exactly the same. Are there any intellectual property lawyers here?

I’m not one, just a retired business litigator. But it does not seem to me that a guitar body shape should be something subject to such protection. What should be protected is the name on the headstock.

If we travel into the world of non-cut acoustic guitars, they all look like they have the same shape to me. So who is infringing whose patent? I doubt we’ll ever know.
 
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CB91710

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CB,

Your post raises another important. How similar does one body shape have to be to another to be an infraction? The Jazzmaster shape is SIMILAR to the firebird, but no where near exactly the same. Are there any intellectual property lawyers here?

I’m not one, just a retired business litigator. But it does not seem to me that a guitar body shape should be something subject to such protection. What should be protected is the name on the headstock.

If we travel into the world of non-cut acoustic guitars, they all look like they have the same shape to me. So who is infringing whose patent? I doubt we’ll ever know.
Exactly. There are minor differences in headstock shapes between traditional acoustic and classical designs. Most are indistinguishable from 20ft away other than some oddballs like Seagull and Fender.

But this is an area where IP lawyers can haggle an issue for months. Sometimes, there is an obvious infringement, where a design has been modified but is otherwise identical... like taking a Gibson "Open Book" and adding a "curled page"... but the new design laid over the Gibson design matches up perfectly outside of the added curl.
Other times it is less obvious, as is the case with the Jazzmaster and Firebird. I've heard a few times through the years that the Firebird was flipped because of a threat from Fender... yet the two Firebird designs were released very close together. Interesting that the Wikipedia article pretty much ignores the Firebird-I and talks about the design being based on softening the lines/contours of the Explorer.
 

oicu812

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Perhaps if they spent less time and money on futile pursuits that make them look greedy and ignorant, and more time and money on building positive customer and industry perceptions they'd be better off. As it stands, they stepped in shit and now they are poorer and look like assholes to boot.
I don't know if Gibson ever thought they would win, but perhaps as I previously stated, to simply re-establish where several of the designs originated. How in the hell is that "greedy"?

I could give a shit who Gibson sues. I could give a shit if they win or lose. What they do has no effect on whether I purchase or not.

I don't know who really gives a shit about it to be frank, except for a few guys here that seem to get worked up about it. No one I speak with personally even thinks about it. Non issue.
 

Brians Evil Twin

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81 documents filed since may 14: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/15506564/gibson-brands-inc-v-armadillo-distribution-enterprises-inc/

An inordinate amount of time and money has gone into this, so SOMEBODY cares quite a bit.

Fool's errand the entire effort. But you're right, a few guys really do seem to be quite worked up about it.

 

PermissionToLand

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Well that is outstanding! I am certain McCarty and Mitchell would be thrilled. Go back and read your post dude, and then come again with who was "tersely combative" and "sarcastic".

Zuntov, sometimes referred to as the "father of the Corvette" was an engineer, but he also participated in design based on performance, and carried more weight than Mitchell in some respects because of the performance desires of Chevrolet. He in fact killed the split window design of 1963 and also shortened the longer hood design of Mitchell.
If you think my comments were terse, you don't know what that word means... nor were they sarcastic by any definition. If you think you're making some kind of point by blindly tossing back my criticisms, you're not, it's just lazy and juvenile.

Zora hated the split window, but he didn't kill it; reviewers and the public at large did with their reactions to it, as well as simple labor/production costs from building it. And of course, management above Mitchell only tentatively approved it for the first year because it was such a risk to take.

If you know anything about the development of the Sting Ray, you would know that Duntov did not, in any way, have more power than Mitchell. He was the VP of the entire Design department while Zora was just a staff engineer on a single project that was small beans to General Motors. And I'm glad he didn't; none of the mid-engine prototypes looked half as good as the production Sting Ray.

So to the point that has been beaten to death, Gibson did in fact originate these designs.
Beaten to death? I haven't seen a single argument put forth for it yet. Declarative statements are not arguments. Especially not stated in the face of evidence to the contrary with no rebuttal to those arguments put forth. Oy vey....

Perhaps they don't have a claim this late in the game to some or all of them, but it seems they are trying to keep their legacy intact as THE source for examples of instruments from the original builder of those designs.
They never had a claim to any of them, except the SG, which was the only significantly unique and original design of the bunch (and what I've always considered the '63 Sting Ray of guitar designs, coincidentally).

Weren't the original builders of those designs located in Kalamazoo, Michigan? Aren't the original designers all dead in the ground? How does another company building a guitar with the LP body shape affect their legacy in any way whatsoever? That changes the history books somehow? Does anybody actually believe people would suddenly become confused as to who built the original 1950s Les Pauls?
 


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