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Thread: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Late to the party, new to the forum, do you have any info on the pickguard designs? (for example, I want to copy the design 100% of the tele pickguard and make a small production to make money, can they sue me since it is a product 100% resemblant to Fender's pickguards? And since the whole product displays a Fender design, will I have problems with them?)

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  2. #22
    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Quote Originally Posted by VintageGearMan View Post
    Late to the party, new to the forum, do you have any info on the pickguard designs? (for example, I want to copy the design 100% of the tele pickguard and make a small production to make money, can they sue me since it is a product 100% resemblant to Fender's pickguards? And since the whole product displays a Fender design, will I have problems with them?)

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    I would think if you copy and label it as a Fender product then yes Fender would take issue
    Even if you do it for no profit

    If it is the same shape and size of a Fender design with some screw hole moved or corners softened

    It may not be an issue

    If you plan to make one that looks just like sometimes that others can purchase elsewhere
    What will make them choose yours?

    Are you planning on making unique all wood
    National flag
    Or something else to separate your product?

    If so, then identical size and layout may not be such an issue
    As long as it isn't logo'd as Fender

    I don't want to spoil your business plan but there are some issues to think about

    There are already the black, white, tortoise, & pearloid
    That are made for teles and strats
    EHD
    Just here surfing Guitar Pron
    RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
    SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
    Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
    Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
    Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
    Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
    GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    I know, I plan to make my own design but would like to make a replica for selling, without selling it as an official Fender pickguard (I will find a name by then). Thanks for the advices!

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  4. #24
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    If something like this is business related, it might be something to bring up to a lawyer. I'd hate to have a business shut down due to ignorance of the law. It would be good to know where 'the line' is, so you don't cross it.
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  5. #25
    of the Forum PFDarkside's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Well, Duncan sells pickups that are the exact form and fit of Fender and Gibson pickups. WD will make a Strat pickguard in any material you want. Are those two items trademarked? The best bet would be to contact an attorney or start searching trademarks yourself. Of course most people just start building, and if they get a letter they come on the Internet to complain how the man is holding the little guy back.
    Oh no.....


    Oh Yeah!

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Quote Originally Posted by PFDarkside View Post
    Well, Duncan sells pickups that are the exact form and fit of Fender and Gibson pickups. WD will make a Strat pickguard in any material you want. Are those two items trademarked? The best bet would be to contact an attorney or start searching trademarks yourself. Of course most people just start building, and if they get a letter they come on the Internet to complain how the man is holding the little guy back.
    Yeah, this is my point. I am sure all of those companies are well advised on what they can or can't do. Things are murky to us end users when someone makes their living off of someone else's work. A strat pickguard shape might not be trademarked, nor a strat pickup form and size, but a headstock certainly is. These are obvious examples, and to know more would require some research.
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  7. #27
    Mojo's Minions devastone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    I think pickguards are pretty safe, there are lots of online sellers for them (so, the competition already has a foothold), headstocks and inlays seem to be the biggest offenders, I'm not sure about body shapes, there are lots of places that make S and T, and even Wolfgang style bodies and don't seem to get bothered even if they aren't officially licensed.
    Last edited by devastone; 05-19-2019 at 09:04 AM.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    There are some basic things and shapes that are not copyrighted. That's why you see everybody and their brother making Fender and Gibson shaped bodies...sometimes slightly different but usually exactly the same. But the NAME is copyrighted. If you make a copy and market it as "Fender", etc, you are legally violating copyright law.

    But here's the reality...
    If you make exact duplicates and put your logo on them and only sell 6 guitars a year, you won't get sued. You CAN get sued, but you WON'T. First of all, it's impossible for the big name mfr to know everyone who is copying their stuff. But mostly, original manufacturers can't afford the legal costs to sue every copycatter who doesn't have any assets anyway. It's a no-win situation for the mfr. At most what will happen will be that you could receive a "Cease and Desist" order. Violate that and it could become a criminal matter.

    But really, this whole thing is about ethics more than anything else. Where is the morality in plagiarism?! Are we willing to sell our soul for a few bucks? If you are going to make a guitar, pickguard, or any other part, why not make it your own design? It's not any more difficult, but way more satisfying anyway. And it ADDS to the variety that we all enjoy.

    When did we, as a society, become more concerned with what we can get away with than in doing the right thing? When did..."Get what you deserve" begin to mean..."Get what you want at any cost to anyone else, whether you deserve it or not"??
    Last edited by GuitarDoc; 05-21-2019 at 05:05 AM.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
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  9. #29
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    ^This, really. When you have the skills to make your own stuff, why copy something else? This goes for everything, really.
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  10. #30
    Mojo's Minions dystrust's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    ^This, really. When you have the skills to make your own stuff, why copy something else? This goes for everything, really.
    Generally I agree too, but if you're talking about a Strat pickguard, only a "copy" will fit correctly.
    Quote Originally Posted by crusty philtrum View Post
    And that's probably because most people with electric guitars seem more interested in their own performance rather than the effect on the listener ... in fact i don't think many people who own electric guitars even give a poop about the effect on a listener. Which is why many people play electric guitars but very very few of them are actually musicians.

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    ^This, really. When you have the skills to make your own stuff, why copy something else? This goes for everything, really.
    Cause nobody will buy your stuff if you are unheard of. It's cruel world out there. No reason to start a business if you know you won't make money by being original. That's reality.

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Quote Originally Posted by Obsessive Compulsive View Post
    Cause nobody will buy your stuff if you are unheard of. It's cruel world out there. No reason to start a business if you know you won't make money by being original. That's reality.
    I disagree. I think originality sells these days. Especially with boutique guitars that brand their own style. People are getting tired of the same old and want something fresh. There is still a market out there for the originals of course but there is another growing market for something a little bit different.



    ;>)/
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  13. #33
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Quote Originally Posted by RorySquier View Post
    I disagree. I think originality sells these days. Especially with boutique guitars that brand their own style. People are getting tired of the same old and want something fresh. There is still a market out there for the originals of course but there is another growing market for something a little bit different.



    ;>)/
    How many of those booh-teek get sold in a year? A thousand pieces? Or one a month? And how large is the market for those guitars, the size of the players with the interest and more importantly, financial wherewithal to dish out 4000 dollars in one single purchase?

    Compare that to the size of the market for average guitars made in Indonesia/ China/ Mexico. Then calculate the potential profit and the duration to break even. You still wnat to be in the booh-teek business?

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    There are some basic things and shapes that are not copyrighted. That's why you see everybody and their brother making Fender and Gibson shaped bodies...sometimes slightly different but usually exactly the same. But the NAME is copyrighted. If you make a copy and market it as "Fender", etc, you are legally violating copyright law.

    But here's the reality...
    If you make exact duplicates and put your logo on them and only sell 6 guitars a year, you won't get sued. You CAN get sued, but you WON'T. First of all, it's impossible for the big name mfr to know everyone who is copying their stuff. But mostly, original manufacturers can't afford the legal costs to sue every copycatter who doesn't have any assets anyway. It's a no-win situation for the mfr. At most what will happen will be that you could receive a "Cease and Desist" order. Violate that and it could become a criminal matter.

    But really, this whole thing is about ethics more than anything else. Where is the morality in plagiarism?! Are we willing to sell our soul for a few bucks? If you are going to make a guitar, pickguard, or any other part, why not make it your own design? It's not any more difficult, but way more satisfying anyway. And it ADDS to the variety that we all enjoy.

    When did we, as a society, become more concerned with what we can get away with than in doing the right thing? When did..."Get what you deserve" begin to mean..."Get what you want at any cost to anyone else, whether you deserve it or not"??
    I think if the financial reward is incredibly unfathomable, people would sacrifice their moral values. Everybody has a price.

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    A custom builder doesn't have to make that many pieces though. Fender started because he tried something different. So did PRS. So did many other companies. Sure, it is easy to go with what has been proven to sell. But I don't think most builders get into it at first because they want to make a ton of money right away. They do it because they are sick of being the guy who always complains about the guitars he comes across and says 'I wouldn't do it this way'. Eventually, he does it the way he wants to do it. If he builds his business (this goes for any business), he might be successful.
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  16. #36
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Jacew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Quote Originally Posted by Obsessive Compulsive View Post
    How many of those booh-teek get sold in a year? A thousand pieces? Or one a month? And how large is the market for those guitars, the size of the players with the interest and more importantly, financial wherewithal to dish out 4000 dollars in one single purchase?

    Compare that to the size of the market for average guitars made in Indonesia/ China/ Mexico. Then calculate the potential profit and the duration to break even. You still wnat to be in the booh-teek business?
    How does small builder compete with that market?

    I mean that's presicely the point why small builder shouldn't be just building copies, because who wants to spent equal money for unkown builders take on a common guitar, when you can have one much cheaper?

    Or spent same amount of money for a well known, revered builders take on it?
    "So understand/Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years/Face up, make your stand/And realize you're living in the golden years"
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  17. #37
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    I started with the premise that I wanted to make my own designs, it took a while and a few prototypes to get there, now I am relatively happy with what I make, and people are slowly recognising the body and headstock shapes I created.
    Having said that, recently I have made a foray into the Single cut arena, why? I just really like the look of a single cut,
    there is however only so much you can do with that shape, I refined the lower horn into more of a point, I used the neck joint that I developed for my P series guitars, (because that really works well), and carved the back for a more contoured fit to the body.

    end result?
    first glance it may look like a LP. but it most certainly is not, it has my logo inlaid on the headstock, which is not shaped like a LP,
    the amount i male, and probably will make is going to be no more than 5 or so a year..

    I think if you you really admire a particular guitar shape then there is no problem in recreating that, but to your own tastes... we all know what is wrong with certain guitar shapes, it has been discussed ad infinitum already on this and other forums.. correct those design flaws, make it a better strat, or a better tele.. proudly put your own logo on it.. and I dont think you would have any issues..

    But...

    Make your own design, from all the little things you like about certain guitars, shapes, design improvements etc... it is way more satisfying, and then you can stand back, look at the final product, and feel proud that its all yours..

  18. #38
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Quote Originally Posted by Obsessive Compulsive View Post
    How many of those booh-teek get sold in a year? A thousand pieces? Or one a month? And how large is the market for those guitars, the size of the players with the interest and more importantly, financial wherewithal to dish out 4000 dollars in one single purchase?

    Compare that to the size of the market for average guitars made in Indonesia/ China/ Mexico. Then calculate the potential profit and the duration to break even. You still wnat to be in the booh-teek business?
    Reality proves quite convincingly that the boutique market is viable.....both for the 'amount of people wanting them aspect' and the reward for small builders (given the numbers out there doing it).
    But nobody in that area is out there to make some amazing fortune - they all have more meaningful reasons to get into that market.

  19. #39
    Bacteriaolgoist GuitarDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    ^ Absolutely.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Building replicas without copyright infringement?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Crossley View Post


    I think if you you really admire a particular guitar shape then there is no problem in recreating that, but to your own tastes... we all know what is wrong with certain guitar shapes, it has been discussed ad infinitum already on this and other forums.. correct those design flaws, make it a better strat, or a better tele.. proudly put your own logo on it.. and I dont think you would have any issues..

    But...

    Make your own design, from all the little things you like about certain guitars, shapes, design improvements etc... it is way more satisfying, and then you can stand back, look at the final product, and feel proud that its all yours..
    Case in point........this SG. Based on a 65 ish era special the body looks pretty stock from the front
    Click image for larger version. 

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    But you look closer and its a neckthru design......but with the 70's sort of headstock size and with a volute
    Click image for larger version. 

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    And I've done a simply inlay on the headstock of my own design
    Click image for larger version. 

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