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Thread: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

  1. #51
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    There was a little paved walkway next to a downtown building here in Rochester, that most pedestrians used as a shortcut between two streets. One day a year the building owners would barricade it, just to establish that it wasn't a public thoroughfare, regardless of how it was used the other 364 days. Once you tolerate others' use of your invention for an extended period, it's become publicly accessible.
    My brother the state prosecutor informed me quite a while ago that most of these "adverse possession" legends are pure urban/suburban folklore and fantasy. No court of law denies the legal owner's property rights because others abuse their generosity.

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  3. #52

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    My brother the state prosecutor informed me quite a while ago that most of these "adverse possession" legends are pure urban/suburban folklore and fantasy. No court of law denies the legal owner's property rights because others abuse their generosity.
    Creating a public easement by prescription or implication, such as a walkway, is a real thing. As non-lawyers, it can be easy to assume, "Clearly, 'most of these "adverse possession" legends"' applies to this situation as well!" The owners of the walkway are doing the prudent thing in demonstrating their ownership through concrete action, especially given the idiots who file lawsuits to get the upper hand in all kinds of situations.

    I'm mildly curious if your brother would agree that easements can be created through usage instead of conveyance or deed, but not curious enough to follow up on it. I'd advise anyone considering such a situation to get actual legal advice, in case one might assume that just one law covers a situation, instead of a situation possibly being affected by multiple statutes.

    ----

    Taking the long view, I'm waiting to see what happens when Gibson is challenged on their long-duration failure to rigorously defend their claimed intellectual property. That documented defense is a requirement under the law to prevail, so this is likely to fail on appeal due to the record on a lack of rigorous defense.

    Reading the scant provided information, it looks like lawyets are trying to get favorable press by overstating the case.
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  5. #53

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Well, there’s agreement that Gibson’s legal adventures seem ill-advised or distasteful, but why are they going in this direction? Certainly, a hundred years ago it would have been odd to expect that the more or less late Victorian scroll-embellished design would have longevity, or sixty years ago that electric guitar shapes might settle to a few patterns, or that in either case, adoption of particular brands or shapes by prominent players might become important. So, their laxity in pinning down trademarks isn’t unusual, only their current attempts to recover abandoned rights.

    If the business is like those I know about, there might be a trace of reason behind all this, especially if present management would like to sell and depart, or else shift to very much different product. In the first case, it is sometimes imagined that IP can be sold, or that license fees can be an income stream without having to make anything. In the second, probably related to buying and rebranding Asian product, necessitates owning enforceable trademarks, or at least pretending to.

    The video of those bizarre guitars being crushed also resonates (intended!). The large company I worked for sent several brand-new, fully salable, two-million dollar semiconductor production systems to our local car crusher, and videoed the event. Worth more as a loss than having to keep after-sale support in place. A friend and I waded through junkyard acid mud for about a week, scavenging commodity components….

  6. #54

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Well, I have to say that the guy in town here, who lost 40 foot of his oceanfront view to his neighbor (after letting multiple owners of the property next door tend to that 40 feet over several decades) doesn't believe that "adverse possession" is merely an urban legend.

    The two neighbors were in court during a lawsuit to enforce a cease and desist action (the guy was running an events venue from his oceanfront estate, inconveniently located in a very upscale residential neighborhood). The subject of the land came up during some very heated arguments, and not only did the gentleman lose the 40 feet (I am sure that the mortgage lender was thrilled), his legal fees were well over $150k.

    Richard, companies do that sometimes, but that loss can be challenged in tax court, as an intent to create unnecessary expenditures. It's something that many accountants would steer clients away from, myself included.
    That said, companies tend to have plans. As for Gibson, they still seem to making it up as they go, and not in a good way.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

  7. #55

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Let's bring Prince into this discussion.
    After years of thinking he was playing a Telecaster even with that horrible looking tortoise guard I just read it was a Hohner!
    To me that seems like someone taking a free ride at Fenders expense. There was never a time when Fender didn't offer a reasonably good Tele even though the entire guitar industry went through a slump in the 70's like so many other products.
    Mandolins were a completely different story. Sure there were F5's and F12's and several big names resorted to them but usually went on to something more suitable when it became available.

  8. #56

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    But really, we encounter 'intellectual property' every day in products that cannot be protected for a variety of reasons, but we now see products, such as cars and certainly computers, that are redefining what it means to own something that has a patented/trademarked element contained within it. Mickey Mouse is protected but Walt is long since dead.
    This is a good point. IP laws started out as one thing and have morphed over the decades to something the original lawmakers might hardly recognize. Some of the changes were deliberate and appropriate. Others were due to heavy-handed lobbying (Disney!) And others are completely incidental.

    One of my favorite examples of "incidental" is the fact that I can record each of a grand piano's notes (at various key velocities) and assemble these into a digital instrument that sounds remarkably like the original piano. I can also do that with an analog synthesizer (with technical limitations, of course). But if I do that with a digital piano, it's copyright infringement, because the digital instrument is based on recordings. (It's the recordings, not just the "digital" part, so you can recreate a classic digital Yamaha DX7, because it's based on digital algorithms and not digital recordings.) Why should a digital piano get protection that an acoustic piano doesn't get? Well, it's not a matter of "should" so much as "does."

    And it's definitely out of control that a company with vast holdings based on public domain stories has prevented almost anything from going into the public domain for the last 90 years or so.
    Last edited by JeffLearman; Jun-01-2022 at 9:11am.

  9. #57

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    My brother the state prosecutor informed me quite a while ago that most of these "adverse possession" legends are pure urban/suburban folklore and fantasy. No court of law denies the legal owner's property rights because others abuse their generosity.
    Squatters' rights are a legal reality. Since property law is state law, the rules vary by state. Google "adverse possession" for more info. No doubt your brother is right that most stories are urban legends, but adverse possession laws do exist and have been exercised.

  10. #58

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    My father is a retired patent attorney and we've discussed IP issues many times. He has always said that in IP, it's a case of "use it or lose it" -- if you don't police your IP rights, you lose them. That's based on precedent, not statute, so it's subject to change if courts start going a new way. But my guess is that they'll lose this on appeal unless they can demonstrate that they've actually tried to police them (which I doubt.)

    Regarding the "counterfeiting" claim, that's absurd (but might be based on a legal definition that doesn't match the common meaning.) It's clearly not what we normally call "counterfeiting" because the headstock says "Dean," not "Gibson."

    Frankly, I think it makes sense for manufacturers to have rights to their headstock shapes. Those have long been used of for brand identification (and furthermore, rarely have functional implications -- it's pure design.)

    Regarding trademark, copyright, patent -- it's complicated. I see that they're not claiming it as a copyright infringement, probably because it's not considered copyrightable. You generally can't patent stuff like this, except that there is a class called "design patents" with special rules that I've never understood. But any patents would have had to have been filed long ago, and patents expire.

    I hope Fender doesn't decide to start protecting their iconic body shapes. I wouldn't have blamed them, if they had from the start. But it's too late now. (And I feel the same way about Gibson.)

  11. #59

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    This crosses my mind whenever I think about royalties on intellectual property. Authors can get paid every time a book they wrote is sold. Top actors sometimes get a percentage of box office receipts. Musicians at the top of the food chain and even lower can be paid (a small amount) every time their song is played on the radio or downloaded.

    It appears odd that a single creative act once completed and with no further action by the creator will yield payments in perpetuity, yet when you buy a creation by a woodworker, painter, luthier, etc. you pay once and no more, regardless of how long you own or enjoy the creation. In fact, if you later sell that creation there is no remittance to the original creator. Who figures out these economic constructs?
    I understand the sentiment, but consider:

    * Copyright is pretty much the only way most artists, authors and songwriter can get paid for their work.
    * The author isn't paid every time the book is read; just every time it's purchased. (OK, with streaming etc., that's not so simple any more!)
    * The carpenter or plumber isn't creating a work of art. They're following established models and simply applying them to the situation. They get paid for their labor, not their inventiveness. Admittedly, I have seen carpenters figure something tricky out and solve nasty problems cleverly. That's true of most jobs. But they're being paid to produce the result, not to design or create a new concept.
    * Artisans are free to file for protection of their work (design patent, copyright where applicable, trade dress, etc.) But you still wouldn't pay each time you used the product, or even each time the same item is sold. Just like a book or CD, which you can sell without paying any royalties. You just can't sell copies.

    Who figures out these constructs? Lawmakers. So, as usual, the goals are mixed, the laws involve compromise, and even in ideal circumstances (e.g., all lawmakers have the same goals and are public-spirited -- if that ever happens) laws are blunt instruments and always have unintended consequences. Courts can remedy some of this, but there is (and should be) a limit to what they can do.

  12. #60
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffLearman View Post
    I understand the sentiment, but consider:

    * The carpenter or plumber isn't creating a work of art. They're following established models and simply applying them to the situation. They get paid for their labor, not their inventiveness.
    Creating anything involves an intellectual process, typically using the transformation of an idea into some physical element. Some processes are granted some status based on ancient class definitions, some not. I would argue that those ‘paid for their labor’ have had a much greater and worthwhile impact on societies than all of the ‘art’ that has been created. I prefer plumbing to painting.

    Overall, the reasons why anyone gets paid at whatever level, is a very complex question. Choices have been made, sometimes historically, for good and bad reasons.
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  13. #61

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Fender has a different outlook on things these days. They actually hired a few builders who were competing with them, like Ron Thorn.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

  14. #62
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffLearman View Post
    ...in IP, it's a case of "use it or lose it" -- if you don't police your IP rights, you lose them. That's based on precedent, not statute, so it's subject to change if courts start going a new way....they'll lose this on appeal unless they can demonstrate that they've actually tried to police them (which I doubt.) Regarding the "counterfeiting" claim...It's clearly not what we normally call "counterfeiting" because the headstock says "Dean," not "Gibson."...I hope Fender doesn't decide to start protecting their iconic body shapes. I wouldn't have blamed them, if they had from the start. But it's too late now. (And I feel the same way about Gibson.)
    Sorta the point I was trying to make with the scroll-&-points "F" silhouette. There were quite a few individual luthiers a few years ago, who built mandolins copying Gibson F-5's, and inlaid "Gibson" into the headstock. Matter of fact, I used to own one. Now reputable manufacturers, as well as luthiers, build mandolins copying Gibson F'5's (with some more or less subtle variance), put their own names on the headstocks, and no one can say "boo" about it.

    There's an old proverb that "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," and if you're not saying the mandolin or guitar you built is a Gibson -- just that it's shaped like one -- and if Gibson has been letting others build guitars or mandolins of that profile for decades without resorting to the courts, seems to me you're pretty much home free. I do recall Gibson suing Elderly instruments, and one element of the complaint was that Elderly advertised a banjo as a "Gibson copy," when it had nothing to do with Gibson. However, every F-model mandolin made is a "Gibson copy," if you want to look at it that way. Not a damn thing Gibson can do about it now.
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  16. #63
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    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    The longer this thread stays active, the more attention Gibson gets.
    Which, like a spoiled child, is what they are seeking; no matter whether that attention is positive or negative.
    Ignore it, and sooner or later the child will be exhausted and go to sleep, at least for a little while.

  17. #64
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffLearman View Post
    Squatters' rights are a legal reality. Since property law is state law, the rules vary by state. Google "adverse possession" for more info. No doubt your brother is right that most stories are urban legends, but adverse possession laws do exist and have been exercised.
    I think it's all over the map. Tell that (squatters' rights are a legal reality) to "River Dave", an 80 year old who has lived for years on the bank of the Merrimack in NH. He's been kicked off the property, his cabin burned and pulled into court. He maintains he'd been given permission to live there, even.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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  19. #65
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Adverse posession is common part of law. Here in slovakia there is a limit though that you have to use the property (real estate) in good faith. My MIL won a court over borders of her land when neighbor sued she built the fence too far into his property. In reality that was error of mapping going from paper to digital maps few years ago and his land became larger than it should have been and he wanted to take advantage of that. The court took it simply, even if the map borders were correct in the new form the part of property has been used as is for more than 40 years wihtout anyone complaining so she owns it now. He appealed and lost, it cost him more in law expenses than the property was worth.
    I think we are pretty safe in mandolin body shapes, scrolls and points have been part of mandolin bodies even before/during Orville's era so thay can hardly claim originality of the idea. And mandolins are rather small part of their business to bother too much.
    Adrian

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  21. #66

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    I think it's all over the map. Tell that (squatters' rights are a legal reality) to "River Dave", an 80 year old who has lived for years on the bank of the Merrimack in NH. He's been kicked off the property, his cabin burned and pulled into court. He maintains he'd been given permission to live there, even.
    Sue, I think it all depends on the state laws, as someone mentioned. River Dave is actually living within the boundaries of the state of Vermont, and what the landowner is trying to avoid is adverse possession. While Dave claims he has permission there’s nothing in writing. When ordered off, he returns. None of this works for him in court. Certain conditions need to be met to award someone possession/ownership. And none of this is cheap, from the viewpoint of legal fees.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

  22. #67

    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Somehow I missed the story/tragedy of River Dave in the news. Googled it and yup, there it is! I'll refrain from making a judgement about squatter's rights, but River Dave seems like an interesting person.

  23. #68
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: This just showed up in my inbox re: Gibson guitars

    Well, my point was that River Dave hasn't apparently accrued any squatter's rights, even after many years. Dave's up there in years, and that's where alot of the sympathy for his case comes from, but I'm guessing the landowner doesn't want to set any precedents for other potential situations in the future by leaving him be. Pretty complicated stuff.

    River Dave's just one guy, but when it comes to Gibson, it seems like Pandora's Box has been open and dispersed widely for a very long time, and into a plethora of jurisdictions.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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