Design: When Does It Become Yours?

Discussion in 'Plans, Designs & Software' started by LC100, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. LC100

    LC100 New Member

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    For the past several months I have been tweaking the "933" I had drawn a while back. Many know its shape is based directly from the ES-339, or as close as I could get it, but the build is more like a 336 or 356. Solid materials instead of laminated, etc., etc. After a huge rethink about what I did, and didn't, like of that I came up with something...new. I hesitate to use that word since anything and everything has been done already in the guitar shape world. Still, it is not the same thing it started out as.

    So this has me wondering when do you, when you have your designer hat on, stop calling something 'theirs' and start calling it 'yours'? I see many guitars here and there where the lineage is obvious but has morphed into something unique and very distinct from the parent design.
     
  2. Jim_E

    Jim_E Active Member

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    It's mine from day one if I start from a blank sheet of paper (or blank screen), I mean with out a tracing or drawing but from scratch. Even if I start it based on certain parameters like overall length/width, location of the waist, shape of cut-aways etc.

    On the other hand I see it as difficult to call it mine if I have a tracing or drawing of someone's work and modify it, unless you do so substantially keeping only the basic parameters.
     
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  3. Sully

    Sully Well-Known Member

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    I'd say that the short answer is when that happens; I know with my single cut design that it's definitely got its influences from many different things. While it's not everyone's cup of tea, I do believe that it's mine.

    Sully
     
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  4. Blue Belly Guitars

    Blue Belly Guitars New Member

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    A copy is a copy. Every writer, artist & designer uses inspiration to fuel their own style. If someone looks at it & says "That's a _ _ _ _ _", then it's obviously not your design.
    My wife works in fashion design. Most large companies have a department that has the sole job of trying to "not" get sued by other design companies. If you feel like you can be sued, it's obviously not your design.

    I went through the process of designing my own Solid Body, recently. I drew ,probably, 30 guitar bodies & headstocks, trying to come up with something that was a "Blue Belly" guitar. In trying to come up with this design, I ended up with 2 that I like. I am just finishing up with the guitar, now. The first pics I leaked to a friend, he says..."That kinda looks like a cross be tween an SG, Strat & a Tele. No matter what you come up with, it will be compared to someting:hmm:
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. BWGuitars

    BWGuitars New Member

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    I can't remember the quote verbatim, but I remember hearing it a long time ago: The measure of a true artist is not coming up with original material, but being able to hide what you've ripped off. I think it was Vonnegut. Sounds like something he'd say.

    Everyone has aesthetic tastes that come from somewhere else. There's no avoiding it without coming up with something completely unappealing to everyone except for people looking for something that's totally out of the box. And that's not most people.

    But to answer the initial question: It becomes your design when the lay-guitarist doesn't mistake it for another brand off-hand.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
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  6. LC100

    LC100 New Member

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    I understand that sentiment but do not agree with it fully. Mostly because some things (it can be anything not just guitars) are so iconic in nature that future derivatives simply get lumped into the mix and improperly termed. An example: Corn Flakes. That was a brand but these days it doesn't matter if it is generic or not - they get called corn flakes.

    In this case you know who grandpa was (if you can be bothered to dig back to the 50's and see what started it all) making it a large hurdle to get over. To this day, any double cut semi-hollow will usually get called a '335 style' guitar. Which is really a misnomer but perceptions are hard to change.
     
  7. Blue Belly Guitars

    Blue Belly Guitars New Member

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    You have a point. I just use that as a personal guide.
     
  8. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    I have one design that was purposefully drawn without using anything else as a reference. Pretty much just a lot of drawing random lines until a shape emerged that i liked. Then i tweaked it and made the design a bit simpler. To me, it looks like nothing else ive seen. But as soon as i showed it to another person, i got comments like "hey it looks just like x", or "it reminds me of y, but not lame".

    Whatever resemblance it may have, it wont be mistaken for something else, and i wont be getting sued over it.
     
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  9. emoney

    emoney New Member

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    If you drew it, regardless of the basis, it's yours. Otherwise, there are only a handful of guitars in existance today, because those designers that came to market in the 50's with electric guitars, influenced anybody and everybody that came after them. Call it what you will, but it's no different in guitars than it is in cars or furniture or clothing, etc. It's "yours" when you call it so and can justify doing it. I don't think Versace ever thought, "Well, techinically, this whole idea of dress is someone else's" (when in fact it was). No, he shared his vision on what a dress is with the world and everyone called it a Versace.
     
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  10. jcsimons

    jcsimons New Member

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    I started building acoustic guitars first and I must say that I never encountered this sort of debate in those circles. There are relatively few successful acoustic designs and people stick to them for good reason. One reason is that many people are looking to re-create a classic sound created by someone a long time ago (a 1930's Martin D28 for example). If you like that sound then you build a dreadnaught out of spruce and rosewood - not a parlor-shapped guitar out of maple and whatever.

    I also have a sound in mind when I think of an electric guitar - its Clapton playing a Les Paul on the beano album. The funny thing about it is that I could build an electric that looks like a Les Paul or a flying V, or something that resembles a dead skunk in the middle of the road, and if its got a 24.625" scale, humbuckers and a marshall amp, it'll probably sound pretty close (well, if I could play like Clapton..). I'm not sure if its just a coincidence or not, but I also think that the Les Paul is as good a design as any I've seen.

    My first electric was designed mostly by my young son, with little influence from the cutting edge of design (like here). He came up with a design very much like a double cut les paul jr. Its a cool guitar that has been through much over its 6 or so years and still gets played regularly. Its liberating that most of the 'problems' in electric guitar design have been pretty much solved - many before 1960. This is wonderful because it frees us to combine cool design ideas with great craftsmanship without worrying as much about how it will sound.

    This site rocks - I've never seen such creativity and craftsmanship in one place
     
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  11. Knarbens

    Knarbens Well-Known Member

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    Good one. That's how I see it, too!
    Therefor the differences need to be just minor sometimes ...


    Let me add this:
    If I came up with an awesome design and would see something very similar somewhere else (later), I wouldn't bother and wouldn't change anything. You know ... if something comes out of my head ... something I really like ... doesn't matter if I drew it with or without inspiration of something already existing ... and an electric guitar really has it's general rules in proportion and almost everything has been done before ... it's what I came up with and it's "mine".
     
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  12. MikeP

    MikeP Member

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    Comparisons to existing designs are inevitable. "Hey that's awesome, it's kind of the horns from an SG with the lower bout of a....".

    From a legal standpoint, it's 'original' when you can run the gauntlet of existing trademarks and not get a match. That is NOT easy. In strict legalese, you can change many elements so it visually looks different and still not escape trademark infringement. A well worded, vague trademark can turn a Strat and an SG into "dual cutaway solid body electric guitars". :ohno:

    As always, IANAL, YMMV, Objects in mirror...
     
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  13. LC100

    LC100 New Member

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    I don't think I need worry about it much since it's never going to be a production model. If I build any it's going to be for personal use and they're just different enough (in my mind) to escape any real scrutiny. Hell, it's a chambered guitar and right there is enough to distinguish it from what the inspiration was.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2013
  14. SimonB15

    SimonB15 Active Member

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    I could be wrong, but I thought when Fender tried to trademark their shapes they were told they couldn't. Logos are a different story, and I don't know about headstocks, but it would mean you can't get in trouble for making - and selling - guitars that are essentially copies.

    Again, could be wrong :)

    Edit: I was wrong (mostly), it was Gibson who tried to sue PRS, and initially won but the decision was eventually overturned. It's actually pretty interesting, I'm having a read of the decision now http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/05a0387p-06.pdf

    Edit 2: But Fender did lose a case to trademark their common shapes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
  15. bruce bennett

    bruce bennett Active Member

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    it's your design when you put your name on the headstock.

    seriously, nearly everything out there is a copy of some kind now..
    Even John's stuff "borrows" lines from nature.. automotive design, architecture..

    and there is only just so many ways to build something that has such a rigid standard as a guitar that everyone can play.
    even the Teufell Birdfish is still instantly recognizable as a guitar design.

    you can't "patent" a "design for electric guitar" based on a shape anymore.. this one I know, I've tried it several times now..

    you stand a better chance of getting a patent for "Manufacturing Process" or "Utility" than for "Design"

    now you can "trademark" things such as a headstock shape or detail and a logo as "artwork"..

    that's where the loop hole was found.. Artwork..

    so we trademarked Johns guitar designs as "Artwork" which means they are subject to the Art Forgery laws..
    which can carry very severe penalties and they are pretty much worldwide too..

    This has turned out to be VERY effective in keeping down any copy cats.
     

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