Why isn’t the Strat shape patented?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by dscottyg, Nov 14, 2021.

  1. dscottyg

    dscottyg Strat-O-Master

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    I don’t get it. How is any other company allowed to make a guitar the same shape as a Stratocaster? Even Coca-Cola patented the bottle shape, so no other soda company could sell soda in a similar bottle. Can you imagine if Ford made a car in the exact same shape as a Porsche? I bet if Fender came out with a Stratocaster with bird-shaped inlays, Paul Reed Smith would be up in arms in court. “You can’t make a guitar with the same idea I had, even though it’s actually the same idea you had but with birds.”

    Does anyone know why it’s OK to copy it?
     
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  2. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    I believe Fender tried to patent it but was denied. They did get the headstock shape though.
     
  3. Boubou

    Boubou Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    Pretty much everything can get patented, except the shape. There are requirements, needs to be move, an improvement on what exists, significantly different, needs to be patented before it is public knowledge , etc
    The shape might have been a trademark, but then again, requirements
    The patent would be expired by now, trademarks like the head shape do not expire
     
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  4. Stubie78

    Stubie78 Strat-Talker

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    Yep, but even that can be a bit of a grey area as you only need to change the size or shape by fractions of a cm, as exampled by my 2016 Tokai. Looks the same but ever so slightly less curved than a big Fender headstock.
    20211101_170653.jpg
     
  5. 3bolt79

    3bolt79 Dr. Stratster

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    Gibson also lot a case recently on some of their body shapes.
     
  6. rolandson

    rolandson Dr. Stratster

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    Trademarked (headstock), not patented. The trem system is what Leo patented.
     
  7. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    Yes, TM not patent. I always get those mixed up.
     
  8. Textele

    Textele Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    This is a REALLY good question that I have wondered about but never addressed.

    My San Dimas is carved almost exactly as my 2016 American Standard Strat. Which is carved back to almost exact 50's bodies. My 79, I was gifted new in 79 was bulker and not nearly as sleek.

    Charvel has always used those beautiful contours and shapes. Even back in the day, early 80's.

    Wayne Charvel, Schecter, and Boogie Body's. Back when life was simpler and LOUDER :D
     
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  9. EC Strat

    EC Strat Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    The world of patents and trademarks with electric guitars is terribly different inconsistent and full of exceptions etc

    I’m no expert in this area but from what I understand Guitar companies can’t trademark a body shape but they can do do with the headstock. This compromise was the result of legal challenges I think made by both Fender and Gibson in the 70’s / 80’s. Yet companies can trademark a color (which is absurd IMO)

    If Leo did a patent on the Strat body shape for example if would’ve expired long ago as patents are not permanent. Trademarks don’t expire as long as the holder defends it consistently.

    seems like to me that a company should be able to TM and the shape of a guitars body and not just the headstock if one can do a color. But I’m no judge or lawyer so what do I know
     
  10. grumpah

    grumpah Strat-Talker Silver Member

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    A patent would have expired years ago but a trademark is valid as long as it is used and defended.

    A U.S. utility patent is generally granted for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed; however, periodic fees are required to maintain the enforceability of the patent. U.S. design patents resulting from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 have a 15 year term from the date of grant; however, patents issued from design applications filed before May 13, 2015 have a 14 year term from the date of grant..

    A U.S. trademark generally lasts as long as the trademark is used in commerce and defended against infringement.
     
  11. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    Any Charvel and Jackson after 2003 (if I recall correctly) wouldn't matter anyhow since they have been owned by FMIC since then and have really been heavily influenced by the Fender design crew.
     
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  12. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    I know this is a point of contention for some but a good example of the trademark would be DiMarco with their double cream humbucker trademark. I believe they even just won a case over it again earlier this year.
     
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  13. RobZ69

    RobZ69 Senior Stratmaster

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    As far as I know a shape can be Trademarked, or Copyrighted. But a Patent is about how to do something.
     
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  14. Textele

    Textele Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    You're right, Fender grabbed 'em up. (By the way, the Charvies coming out of the Ensenada are top crust)

    That's why I went back and added to this too my original post this about the early 80's.

    I remember! :cool: those early years, which means I'm getting old :) yeah!
     
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  15. Textele

    Textele Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    Yeah, the dreaded double cream thing with Dimarzio. That too, is a real weird deal to me too. o_O

    Our local pickup guru @Antigua did a great job of explaining it once, and I still don't fully get it.
     
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  16. Ferpie

    Ferpie Senior Stratmaster

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    Patenting a shape... made to work with yhe way a human body is shaped... might as well patent a square a triangle and a circle...
     
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  17. marksound

    marksound Strat-O-Master

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    Patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc. is all legal stuff that has been discussed to death for years.

    Suffice to say that pretty much any answer you get on a guitar forum will be what I like to refer to as ballpark facts. Some of it might be pretty close, most of it probably not.

    The real story is, nobody thought to trademark the shapes until the Asian copies started cutting into the market. By then it had been too many years, and most shapes had become public domain, like Kleenex and Aspirin.

    Headstock shapes were unique enough that they could be trademarked.

    Gibson tried to slap down PRS over the single cut body shape, but ultimately lost their case.

    There's a lot more to it, and I'm not a legal professional, but that is my recollection of the facts.

    As always, I could be wrong. :thumb:
     
  18. rolandson

    rolandson Dr. Stratster

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    I think Leo's trem design had 17 years.
    17 or 20, regardless...it is why anybody and everybody can use it now. Without paying a nickel.

    The headstock, not so much. That requires a license. Which fender, in their brief moment of clarity (desire to make money), recognized that in the long run, there is more to be made in collecting licensing fees than in paying lawyer's fees.

    The body shape just wasn't unique enough to warrant either trademark or patent protection.
     
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  19. arct

    arct Strat-O-Master

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    Headstock shape and the script used for the name/logo. The script is what got Tokai, Ibanez, and later, Valley Arts.

    rct
     
  20. Stubie78

    Stubie78 Strat-Talker

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    As long as I can fit my square pegs through it that's fine with me...!
     
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