I have been modding and repairing guitars for years. I have sold guitars on craigslist, ebay, and online stores.
My wife's cousin lives in Hungary. He can make guitar bodies and necks for super cheap, paint them, and send them to me. I can install great brand name hardware and electronics from here in the US, and have a really nice custom guitar to sell on ebay, Amazon, or other online stores. I will put my companies name on the headstock.
What can I not do as far as guitar shapes and headstock shapes, without getting into trouble with Tradmark problems?
1) Gibson --- Right now on ebay there are a lot of Les Paul looking guitars for sale. How much different does a Les Paul looking guitar need to be? Why are these sellers not getting into trouble?
2) Fender --- There are tons of Fender Strat and Tele looking guitars on ebay. How much different do they need to be?
3) Or Other Brands?
People are so used to seeing the Gibson and Fender shapes. If I make something totally different and freaky, many people will not want to buy it, some will, but many will not want it. I did some research on it, but it is really blurry. Gibson says that they won a case with the "Les Paul" trademark shape, but there's a ton of them on ebay today. So, how are they getting away with it?
I do not want to pass off something as a Gibson or Fender. My guitars will have different hardware, electronics, and my company name.
Any feedback will be great!
if you avoid a logo that is in any way similar to big brands then I think you should have no problems. my two cents.
It's more than the logo. Back in the day a number of Japanese companies produced Gibson Les Paul clones; Gibson won an infringement suit because they had a trademark on the "book" style peghead.
You'd need to look at the styles you're copying and research any trademarks that apply to the design elements. You might also need to research design patents - but they have a shelf life... in general, a patent lasts for 14-20 years and can typically be renewed once. But other countries might have longer patent terms, and a company that's global in scope might be able to bring suit in another venue.
Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL