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Fender is effin' evil.

4/12/2004 2:20 PM
anonymous Fender is effin' evil.
Fender guitars is a well known corporate bully. Any small guitar company that produces anything with strings and a pickup is likely to be threatened by them with legal action. I can't tell you how many stories of intimidation I've heard over the years. Now, apparently, they're trying to patent/tradmark the cutaway, for God's sake.  
These bastards regularly threaten and intimidate individual guitar builders who are barely scratching out a living, and who certainly don't have the resources to fight a big corporation. Fender is going after builders producing their own original designs! You don't even have to copy them to subject yourself to the possibility of financial ruin.  
I resolve to never buy another Fender product and to discourage others from doing the same. I hope you'll join me. And spread it around.  
Here's link to a discussion of this at the mim forum guitar builders website.^11@.ee82501/0
4/12/2004 2:40 PM
Okay, the link doesn't work. Let's try this:  
Click on "Jam Session" then "Fender trademark warning".
4/12/2004 10:01 PM
Mark Lavelle
With the exception of Jason Lollar's, all of the first dozen messages of that discussion are posted by people who are incredibly ignorant of the differences between trademarks, patents and copyrights (and Jason mixes up some of it, too).  
In general terms, the Tele & Strat body and headstock shapes are Fender trademarks – they originated the designs and the designs are firmly associated with the Fender company. You see those shapes and you think Fender, right? Whether Fender has a sufficient "investment" in those shapes to register them as trademarks is a highly technical question, the answer to which depends partly on how vigorously they have defended their marks in the past.  
I'm not defending Fender, just pointing out that they *have* to go after reasonably visible imitators if they ever want to be able to defend their marks in court...
4/13/2004 6:39 PM
Mark Hammer

From a practical perspective, the horse has left the barn.  
A great part of what trademarks are about is the differentiation of a market and the association of identifiers of different sorts with a product so that the product is not misrepresented or deliberately confused by a competitor. In other words, manufacturer/service-provider B should not be able to make money by passing themselves off as selling the same product as manufacturer A. So, if I have a big investment in Coca-Cola, I would very much like it if competitors did not use a red and white theme in their packaging, just as Pepsi would prefer that red, white, and blue themes be uniquely associated with their product.  
Fair enough. Now ask yourself what you would think if you saw an inexpensive guitar with a D'Angelico headstock and a name like, say, "New York Guitars". You'd probably think "Cheap copy", right? But you wouldn't confuse a real D'Angelico with this thing unless the manufacturer had gone so far as to lie and falsely use the name.  
Could/can this happen with Fenders any more? Not a chance. Yes, the headstock was their trademark for many years and some of the attempts to imitate (but not copy) it over the years have been downright pathetic and occasionally funny. But the fact remains that as the off-shore clone market picked up years ago to fill a niche for players who wanted something to play while they were waiting to buy a "real" Fender, Fender eventually started to go after the downscale market with Mexican, Korean and Chinese made instruments. In effect, they themselves eroded their "brand" identifiability by taking great pains to become the very thing they were hoping to differentiate themselves from. If I have a Turser, Dillon, Peavey, Hondo, Vantage or whatever "Strat", or even a Levinson or PRS version, do I think I have a Strat? Well, at the low end I certainly don't have anything different than a budget Strat, although in my mind I may not have a Custom Shop Strat. At the high end, I know it probably doesn't matter either.  
Sop, will reclaiming their unique identifiers help Fender? maybe...after 20 years of squeezing out the visible competition. But for now, you could make every guitar manufacturer be forced to produce headstocks in the shape of Italy...or an artichoke, and people who had sprung $250 on a Strat/Tele clone would still feel they had bought an instrument not appreciably different from a low-end Fender of the same type.  
Like the other Mark, this is not a castigation or defense of Fender. Their cosmetic appearance ought to have been their registered trademark and a component of distinguishing them from every other manufacturer out there, the way that BC Rich bodies or Dean headstocks or even PRS headstocks are associated with thse companies. At this point, though, it's about 30 years too late to have any impact.  
I think it's just the Fender lawyers talking on this one.
4/13/2004 8:33 PM
paging Wayne Alexander...
and any other lawyers on this board...
"I think it's just the Fender lawyers talking on this one."
It doesn't matter though. A company has to mass the defense even if Fender's claim is without merit. When a friend of mine decided to make an attenuator based on the GT circuit, he wrangled with A-H Pittman for a while and finally decided that proving that the circuit came from RDH4 would cost way more than licensing. (I think that one has run out, btw.)  
What I can't comprehend is that a company can trademark something after the fact. If you don't patent something and sell it, then it becomes public domain - at least it won't hold in a court challenge. You can't say..."oops, we screwed up and want to patent our widget now." To me this is like Coca-Cola trying to trademark the Cola half after 100 years+ of only having trademark on the Coca half.  
Here's a question or two - afaik, Roger Sadowsky invented the streamlined Jazz Bass body shape, based on the original. Fender copied him. Will they go after him for that? I asking, where does it stop. They could bury him in litigation.  
What happens with Warmoth and anyone else who has a license agreement for headstocks. According to Jason Lollar, they paid $1 for that because the CBS guys didn't care, and they have letters to prove it.
4/13/2004 11:41 PM
Steve A.
Re: Fender is effin' evil.
Mark said:  
But for now, you could make every guitar manufacturer be forced to produce headstocks in the shape of Italy...  
    ... or a body in the shape of the United States? ;) [Look up S/N 73489155 in the Trademark database]  
    I think that Fender and Gibson have gotten out of hand trying to register trademarks for practically anything associated with a guitar. The original intention was to protect designs which were unique- like bodies in the shape of the US, or a distinctive inlay pattern on the neck. If you want to research trademarks for guitars type in "G & S: GUITARS" as the Search Term, select ALL for the field and click on "Exact Search Phrase". Here is the main page for trademarks:  
    IMO after 54 years it is too late to try to register the shape of a tele body as a trademark because it is no longer distinctive.  
Steve Ahola
4/14/2004 6:33 PM
Mark Hammer

In total agreement. The barn is empty and the horses are free.  
As for S/N 73489155, I actually got to play that one during a visit to the old Gibson factory in 1982. Nicely balanced, and you gotta love a light mahogany plank, but Florida can seriously poke your "hanging chads" out if you don't watch it!.

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