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Liability And Legal Issues With Copying Guitars

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Take 'Fender' out of the title, possible even 'stratocaster'; even if you build a guitar out of fender parts, you're not allowed to put a decal on it, and it's technically not a real Fender, made by Fender, etc.

I believe Fender, Stratocaster and Strat are all Fender registered trademarks, so it's probably best to leave them out of a title altogether. I'm fairly certain they have legal standing to tell you to cease and desist sales, because using their registered trademarks in the title of your book would imply that they've got something to do with it.

Yep, had the same feeling about using 'Fender' in the title and will definitely take that out. Will do some more research on the use of the word Stratocaster. Technically you're probably right. However, many people use that word to indicate a model of sorts. Much like the world used to talke about 'Hoover' meaning a vacuum cleaner.

Also i - when building a Frankenstein Strat - am inclined not to remove the decal from a fairly expensive original 'Fender neck', which is one could extrapolate from your view. Eric's Blackie still had the original logo's and was called a Fender Stratocaster still , but as you said , technically its not a 'Fender"guitar anymore. Describing how to put one together its fairly impossible to avoid using the word Stratocaster (or Telecaster, Precsion whatever). So although i fear you are basically right, i have a feeling that this is not a black and white issue. After all i am writing 'about' Stratocaster.

Your view is helpful and much appreciated,

have fun, Bert

Well, look at every 'knock off' manufacturer's product, and you'll find that none of them call it a stratocaster. They might say 'SC' model, or 'doublcut' or something similar, but none will use strat, or stratocaster. You or I will, when talking about those guitars, as will reviewers, as will authors of books about various kinds of guitars, but the manufacturers themselves won't. Only those selling licensed parts can and do. You shouldn't have a problem using the words 'strat' or 'tele' in a descriptive sense, in a book, but I'd be quite wary of their use in the title of a book. That's more likely to attract attention.

Tks, this was very helpful. Food for thought.

have fun!

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So if i make my Epiphone Gothic Flying V with the rr body and some other non epiphone parts, how would it be legal to sell it on ebay?

Epiphone Flying V custom copy?

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sell it as a custom flying v and in the description mention where all the parts came from

Edited by Nitefly SA

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so i cant put the epiphone logo at the top and say it was waterslided on and not really and epiphone?

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..why the heck would you put a bogus Epiphone logo on anything? Unless you're restoring an original Epi, or using a neck that's already got the Epi logo on it, I can't think of any ethically sound reason for putting an Epiphone logo on there.

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like making a custom strat from the ground up , then putting a squier logo on the headstock....::shutters::

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so i cant put the epiphone logo at the top and say it was waterslided on and not really and epiphone?

If you're gonna counterfeit a logo, why not go nuts and put "Ormsby" on it? :D

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Also i - when building a Frankenstein Strat - am inclined not to remove the decal from a fairly expensive original 'Fender neck', which one could extrapolate from your view. Eric's Blackie still had the original logo's and was called a Fender Stratocaster still , but as you said , technically its not a 'Fender"guitar anymore.

This is certainly splitting hairs. Just because Eric or a roadie put the guitar together, its not a Fender anymore? Please.

If I take my Ford truck to my local shop, and they drop a Ford engine in it, it's still a Ford even though they're not Ford mechanics.

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*sigh*

Just look at what happened to allthingsstrat.com. Fender threatened legal action for use of their trademarks in a way FMIC didn't approve of, even with the disclaimers on the website they still wound up changing it to allthingsguitar.com.

Fender isn't going to give a rat's if you put together a Frankie and it just happens to use an original Fender neck with the logo on it. Just as long as you don't go putting it on eBay saying it's a geniune Fender GUITAR, but rather a custom guitar with a Fender neck.

Tele, Telecaster, Strat, and Stratocaster ARE registered trademarks of FMIC, among other names as well. The key is how you're using them. Right now, by discussing Fender products, we aren't violating any trademark laws by discussing the names in a non-commercial way. However, when you start using the trademarks in order to sell YOUR book or any other commercial purpose not approved by FMIC, you open yourself up to liability to FMIC, including disgorgement of profits.

Anyway, just call the book "How to Build Your Own Frankenstein Guitar" and be done with it. Although, someone MAY own the word "frankenstein" as a trademark, so you may want to hire counsel to check that out.

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I seriously think project guitar should make www.projectguitar.com decals to put an end to the need for fake gibsons and fenders...maybe we could be discussing fake PG'S instead! Make a good "prize" for entering it in the GOTM comp...

hmmm...fake epi's and squires...interesting, they have done well out of repo mosrites and dano's I guess...

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Does anyone know what Fender is doing or what their plans are for the Strat bodies and headstocks that are so widely copied around the world? Are they ever going to try to put a stop to it or are they screwed since they have let it go on for so long already? I don't personally care about Fender but I have seen soooo many variations of the Strat it just makes me curious.

I'd also like to know how it is determined when it is a copy/theft and when it is just a similar looking instrument. Is it just up to the judge to determine this or are there actual guidelines that spell this out?

Well fender makes money on liscensed bodies and necks. Obviously nothing on lets say a Jay Turser ect.. Fender shaped bodies.

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so is the body styles that are patented or the head stock and names kinda confused about it

Most of their patents on whatever Leo invented expired long ago. The logos, names, and general shapes are still registered trademarks of FMIC and cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without permission.

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so is the body styles that are patented or the head stock and names kinda confused about it

Most of their patents on whatever Leo invented expired long ago. The logos, names, and general shapes are still registered trademarks of FMIC and cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without permission.

Then what was the point of patented protection if the registrared trademark already provides the needed protection?

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so is the body styles that are patented or the head stock and names kinda confused about it

Most of their patents on whatever Leo invented expired long ago. The logos, names, and general shapes are still registered trademarks of FMIC and cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without permission.

Then what was the point of patented protection if the registrared trademark already provides the needed protection?

You can't trademark a concept or an idea.

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This may seem a stupid question, but after reading a few pages of the thread (dont have time to read them all unfortuneatly as im heading out soon), am I to understand that if I also order parts from a site such as Warmoth or something, assemble them as a full guitar, and sell them on with my own brand name, I could be legally shot down?

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No I wouldnt sell them as strats or anything, I run a home-based custom electronics company called X-Fire and I would like to start building my own guitars. The only problem is I suck when it comes to wood etc. I guess what I'm asking is if its ok to build guitars MODELED after strats, teles etc, but not actually CALL them strats, plus theres the companies I buy parts from, I havent been able to find any info on where they stand when it comes reselling etc etc. If this makes no sense just ignore me, im up way too early :D.

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No I wouldnt sell them as strats or anything, I run a home-based custom electronics company called X-Fire and I would like to start building my own guitars. The only problem is I suck when it comes to wood etc. I guess what I'm asking is if its ok to build guitars MODELED after strats, teles etc, but not actually CALL them strats, plus theres the companies I buy parts from, I havent been able to find any info on where they stand when it comes reselling etc etc. If this makes no sense just ignore me, im up way too early :D.

ok, this is as clear as i can make it, lets finalise this once and for all. I have spoken with Fender USA, and Fender AUST about this, on NUMEROUS occasions...

If it has a strat shape body or pickguard, they will let you off... for now.

If it has a strat, tele, or any other common fender headstock, REGARDLESS of your own brand name, or model names, and regardless of if you use GENUINE, LICENSED, or your own hand/machine made necks, you CANNOT sell it as a commercial venture. COMMERCIAL VENTURE is classed by the courts, and can even be the INTENTION to sell (eg: you are intending to sell, but havent sold yet). You do not have to have EVER made ANY profit to be considered a commercial venture.

Once it goes to court, you WILL lose, and then fender can seize goods and seek financial restitution.

If a store stocks your fender like instruments, the first course of action (by Fender) is closing the account they have with fender, then withdrawing all fender products from that store. Once that happens, they'll NEVER get a Fender account again. I have seen it happen.

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i was thinking about building a bass. my design started with the B.C. Rich Widow. then i changed lots of things on it.

i changed the width and height, as well as some demensions. also in my design the bridge is on the body (not on a little piece of the body, pics will show what i'm talkin about), the fins are straight not curved, the neck is a bolt-on not neck-thru, and the headstock will be completely different.

(i will probably never sell it, but i will probably post a lot of pics)

is this enough to avoid being sued?

pics of the concept idea next to the real widow:

untitledcv5.jpg

widbassstd.jpg

thanks in advance :D

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Good thread...

How about selling replacement parts? Do you guys know how the Fender licensing thing works? If I manufactured strat style necks, could I get in trouble for advertising them as such? I'm not real familiar with the aftermarket regs...

Thx!

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Good thread...

How about selling replacement parts? Do you guys know how the Fender licensing thing works?

Sure, apply for a licensing deal with Fender. Will cost you more than you can afford (i dont care how much money you have), trust me. I did have the exact figures at one stage, but i can assure you it was MILLIONS of dollars per annum after the initial fee.

If I manufactured strat style necks, could I get in trouble for advertising them as such?

Not just in "trouble", but you'll lose absolutely everything you own. Put simply, Fender will wipe the floor with you, then ring you out, and start again. Afterall, you are taking work away from companies like warmoth, mighty might, etc who DO pay Fender millions of dollars for the rights to use the trademarks. They'll want to tan your hide too.

I'm not real familiar with the aftermarket regs...

Thx!

Get familiar!! You want to start making cnc things, you better know your stance, or you will be eaten alive.

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