How do Tokai get away with it?

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powerhandpowerhand Frets: 28
I thought that the Fender and Gibson headstock shapes were copyrighted and that other manufactures couldn't copy them.  I have an Encore from 1990 which has a Fender-style headstock but they've clearly had to change their design since then.  It seems that Tokai still produce guitars with Fender and Gibson headstock shapes, so how come they don't get told off?
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  • 57Deluxe57Deluxe Frets: 5794
    The Tele and Strats don't have the same profile headstock and the Gibson models involves some kind of licence whereby they only have outlets to 'regions' for the Japan made top-ends.
    <Vintage BOSS Upgrades>
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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 4847
    Headstock shape won't be covered by copyright, but it could be a registered design (says me, who's just finished a postgraduate diploma in intellectual property law!)
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  • CollingsCollings Frets: 156
    I thought that the Tokai Love Rock model had a slightly different "open book" on the top of the headstock other than ones intended just for the Japanese marked only.
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  • SteveRobinsonSteveRobinson Frets: 1817
    As I understand it, the design protection isn't recognised in Japanese law so Tokai can use these shapes for the home market, but not export.
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  • Strat54Strat54 Frets: 913
    Yes, Steve is right. Its the same here in the UK hence you see SVL guitars with the identical headstocks to Fender.
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  • SteveRobinsonSteveRobinson Frets: 1817
    edited June 13
    The design is protected under UK law though so I'm surprised that Fender haven't had a word with Simon, as they have with a lot of other UK builders, e.g. Guitarbuild
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  • GarthyGarthy Frets: 1909
    I always thought it was a pity ESP changed their headstock on their domestic sales, their pointy heads were the most elegant of the Jackson/Kramer/Carvin style headstocks.
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  • powerhandpowerhand Frets: 28
    As I understand it, the design protection isn't recognised in Japanese law so Tokai can use these shapes for the home market, but not export.
    Thanks - all makes sense now. 
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  • powerhandpowerhand Frets: 28
    Headstock shape won't be covered by copyright, but it could be a registered design (says me, who's just finished a postgraduate diploma in intellectual property law!)
    You are indeed correct! From the Fender website:

    “FENDER®, STRATOCASTER®, STRAT®, TELECASTER®, TELE®, P BASS®, PRECISION BASS®, and the distinctive headstock designs of these guitars are registered trademarks of Fender.”

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  • TheRobLewTheRobLew Frets: 5
    I had one of the Chinese made Lve rocks, and the headstock was open book syle, but with a small "nipple" right in the centre which altered the profile just enough to make a difference.
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  • gavin_axecastergavin_axecaster Frets: 216
    edited June 13
    The design is protected under UK law though so I'm surprised that Fender haven't had a word with Simon, as they have with a lot of other UK builders, e.g. Guitarbuild
    I have no knowledge of the ins and outs however I've posted this previously - in the UK Fender's trademark on headstock shapes specifically says it also contains the Fender logo.
    https://trademarks.ipo.gov.uk/ipo-tmcase/page/Results/1/UK00002050782
    https://trademarks.ipo.gov.uk/ipo-tmcase/page/Results/1/UK00002050647
    They don't appear to have trademarked the bass headstocks in the UK
    Of course you still need to have the funds to fight it if they decide to go after you..


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  • WezVWezV Frets: 9081
    Yeah, once they send you a cease and desist letter you can either stop copying them or pay a lot to fight it.
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  • prowlaprowla Frets: 1019
    The design is protected under UK law though so I'm surprised that Fender haven't had a word with Simon, as they have with a lot of other UK builders, e.g. Guitarbuild
    I have no knowledge of the ins and outs however I've posted this previously - in the UK Fender's trademark on headstock shapes specifically says it also contains the Fender logo.
    https://trademarks.ipo.gov.uk/ipo-tmcase/page/Results/1/UK00002050782
    https://trademarks.ipo.gov.uk/ipo-tmcase/page/Results/1/UK00002050647
    They don't appear to have trademarked the bass headstocks in the UK
    Of course you still need to have the funds to fight it if they decide to go after you..


    Some even put Fender logos on the headstock.
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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 4847
    powerhand said:
    Headstock shape won't be covered by copyright, but it could be a registered design (says me, who's just finished a postgraduate diploma in intellectual property law!)
    You are indeed correct! From the Fender website:

    “FENDER®, STRATOCASTER®, STRAT®, TELECASTER®, TELE®, P BASS®, PRECISION BASS®, and the distinctive headstock designs of these guitars are registered trademarks of Fender.”
    I think your answer is more correct than mine actually! A model name or a logo can be easily protected by a trade mark. Trademarks are expanding into other areas like colours (Cadbury’s purple), smells and also shapes (there’s an ongoing saga about whether Kit-Kat can register their four-finger bar as a trademark). So a trademark is probably the best way to protect a headstock shape that makes you think “Strat” or “Tele”. Designs are more to do with the overall shape of an object and would better apply to a complete guitar. There’s a lot of overlap between the various types of intellectual property protection, and a myriad (legal, financial, or legal) reasons why you’d choose to protect certain aspects of your product in a specific way.
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