Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

350
Banjo Lovers Online


Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Aug 13, 2020 - 6:34:12 PM
like this
1362 posts since 4/13/2017

I have a question about trademarked names and such.

I have a rim that I made but sorta buggered up, and the only way to remove the buggered up places is by cutting it like a Tony Pass ThinSkirt. It also has a woodie cut on top inspired by Tony Pass's Almost Flathead. I was going to put it in the banjo I'm building for my friend, but since I buggered it up, I gotta make a new rim, as he doesn't want the thinskirt design.

If I decided to sell it, like, in the classifieds, could I say it is a "ThinSkirt-style rim inspired by Tony Pass"? And that the woodie is "My own take on the Almost Flathead design"? Could I say stuff like that without infringing on rights and laws and stuff?

Aug 13, 2020 - 7:12:34 PM
likes this

2212 posts since 10/17/2013

Yes, that would be fine.

 You would not be infringing in any patent.

 The patent infringement would be justified if you made a rim EXACTLY like the aforementioned Tony Pass “Almost Flathead” rim, and then went so far as to claim that it was indeed one of his rims.

 I doubt that any luthier or seller (aside from Tony Pass), would be stupid enough to do that.

Aug 13, 2020 - 7:36:55 PM

Alex Z

USA

3924 posts since 12/7/2006

C'mon.  You copy someone else's design.  You want to advertise it for sale as a copy of someone else's design.

Forget about getting sued.  Do the ethical thing, which is to scrap the buggered up rim.  

Aug 13, 2020 - 8:00:05 PM
like this

Foote

USA

397 posts since 3/25/2009
Online Now

Re selling a copy of someone else's design, how many "Gibson" copy banjos have been sold on this site over the years. As long as you're clear to the buyer that this is a copy, and not exact at that, I don't see the problem, ethical or legal (too bad the two aren't the same).

Aug 13, 2020 - 8:33:32 PM
likes this

11085 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by okbluegrassbanjopicker

Yes, that would be fine.

 You would not be infringing in any patent.


And you went to law school where?

My opinion is the Hangout is no place to get legal advice.

The patent on the Tony Pass rim was issued in 2008. So the patent is still in force.

Hunter: Read the patent and see exactly what aspects of rim design it covers. I've read the patent, and the range of covered shapes and configurations is pretty broad. See how your rim compares. If you have any concerns about how to proceed, consult an attorney.

Aug 13, 2020 - 8:47:38 PM

2441 posts since 3/30/2008

Almost everything made is a variation or reiteration of someone else's design, but that doesn't justify directly cashing in on another's name .

Aug 13, 2020 - 9:00:03 PM

KCJones

USA

879 posts since 8/30/2012

There's currently several banjos listed on the marketplace as "Gibson" banjos that use direct copies of Gibson designs and have no Gibson parts at all.

There are several videos in the media area of BHO that contain unauthorized recordings of copyrighted music.

Just sell it. If you get a Cease and Desist letter, don't do it again. Don't use other people's names in your ad though, that's asking for trouble.

I would never take legal advice from anyone one the internet.

Aug 13, 2020 - 10:17:41 PM
likes this

20 posts since 1/17/2018

Everyone has an opinion and most of them stink

Aug 13, 2020 - 10:48:07 PM
like this

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23895 posts since 6/25/2005

I am a lawyer and I would not give advice on legal issues about which I know nothing—and that’s patents and trademarks. That said, the Gibson copy horse is long out of the barn. Tony Pass is a different issue. Infringing on patents or exploiting someone else’s name can land you in court. I assume you don’t want that. Your possible gain from selling your rim as similar to a Pass is, it seems to me, outweighed by the risk.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 08/13/2020 22:49:24

Aug 14, 2020 - 2:42:06 AM
likes this

526 posts since 3/9/2013

Sell it for what it is, a second or an attempt to fix a mistake. It’s a one off.

Aug 14, 2020 - 3:22:40 AM

2212 posts since 10/17/2013

I should have said, “I don’t think it would be wrong to sell the rim as you describe it,” instead of what I did say. 

Aug 14, 2020 - 6:21:53 AM
likes this

1362 posts since 4/13/2017

So if I fix this rim up and decide to sell it, should I just be like "This rim uses a thinner thickness to increase vibrations and enhance tone, and utilizes a woodie profile that brings the bass of a flathead but the clarity of an archtop" or something like that?

Aug 14, 2020 - 8:19:52 AM

2212 posts since 10/17/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by okbluegrassbanjopicker

Yes, that would be fine.

 You would not be infringing in any patent.


And you went to law school where?

My opinion is the Hangout is no place to get legal advice.

The patent on the Tony Pass rim was issued in 2008. So the patent is still in force.

Hunter: Read the patent and see exactly what aspects of rim design it covers. I've read the patent, and the range of covered shapes and configurations is pretty broad. See how your rim compares. If you have any concerns about how to proceed, consult an attorney.


I had no idea that you would interpret my comment as legal advice.

 That was not my intention. 

I do NOT think Hunter needs to worry about the whole legal deal in this instance.

 All he is doing is selling a messed up rim. We don’t need to make his selling it, any harder.

Aug 14, 2020 - 9:42:03 AM
likes this

2924 posts since 2/18/2009

When selling a rim I just say it has these dimensions and is made from this kind of wood, or whatever the specifications are, and leave it at that. I don't find the advertising hype style of writing helpful when I am reading it, so I don't write it either.

Aug 14, 2020 - 10:49:51 AM
like this

271 posts since 8/7/2007

Hunter,

Keep true to your original specs. Do not compromise your quality or consistency. The rim in question is not worth the trouble it could cause you in the future. Just scrap the rim, chalk it up to a learning experience, and move on.

Quality never goes out of style.

Eric

Aug 14, 2020 - 11:16:51 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

13159 posts since 6/30/2015
Online Now

This is not in any way to be considered legal advice. But from a practical standpoint, you are talking about selling a single rim that you made yourself. You are not manufacturing rims like this one, and it is similar to, not a copy of a Tony Pass rim. You will make little money on this rim. It would cost Tony a lot of money to get a lawyer to go after you, and what damages would there be for him to recover? I cannot imagine anyone investing the time, or the money to go after you, and even if he did, he would have to prove patent infringement. If you were making and selling copies of Tony Pass rims and raking in $50,000 a year in profits, then it might raise eyebrows, but for a single rim? I wouldn't even think twice about it. Bringing lawsuits is expensive, and you have no guaranty of winning. Of course if you do win, the defendant could also end up paying your court costs, but collection is another issue entirely, and it could lead to an appeal, which is more time and more money. Why do you think most companies settle out of court? It's cheaper and faster. And no lawyer is going to take this case on a contingency basis, because there just isn't enough money involved. So lawyer costs would be up front. The most you would likely need to worry about would be a small claims court claim, in which case, if you lost, you would likely have to surrender the money from the sale and agree to not try and sell another home made Tony Pass rim. Just sell it.

Aug 14, 2020 - 11:34:58 AM

11085 posts since 6/2/2008

I agree with Dave's larger point.

One detail: Tony Pass died in 2011, so it's whoever's running the business in his name that would do the patent enforcing.

Hunter: I can't say whether you should sell the rim or scrap it.  If you choose to sell, I think your revised language is preferable. I'd stay away from calling it a Tony Pass style rim. That would just be admitting you're copying a patented design. That may also just be me being cautious -- because I agree that no one is going to come after you for however you advertise and one rim you're selling at a profit that amounts to pocket money.

When the patent expires not too many years from now, I believe the design will be fair game to anyone who wants to copy it.

Aug 14, 2020 - 12:12:36 PM
like this

55422 posts since 12/14/2005

Supposing it's a standard 11 inch rim, and it's maybe 50% of a Tony Pass design, why not advertise it as a "HALF-PASS-ELEVEN"  rim, and advise the potential buyers that NOW is the time to buy it?

Aug 14, 2020 - 12:35:54 PM
likes this

Alex Z

USA

3924 posts since 12/7/2006

Regarding the lawsuit stuff:    "If I won't get caught and can't get punished if I do, then it's OK to to do it."

A brilliant principle on which to build a business.  smiley  

Aug 14, 2020 - 6:35:39 PM

Banjo Lefty

Canada

1970 posts since 6/19/2014

Trademarks and patents are an area of law most lawyers won't touch with a ten-foot pole, and those that specialize in this area won't do anything else, because it's that complicated.

The very fact that you are asking the question means you have some doubts. If you have doubts, DON'T DO IT. Either pay a patent lawyer for some expert advice, or just scrap the rim and move on to another project.

Aug 14, 2020 - 8:39:35 PM

rcc56

USA

3103 posts since 2/20/2016

Selling a copy of a patented item is unethical.
I'm sure people often do it anyway, and get away with it. But that doesn't make it right.

Listen to Eric Sullivan. He is the only one who has commented on this who makes a full-time living building banjos. And he grew up in the business.

There was a recent thread concerning an instrument maker who engaged in unethical and disreputable business practices. He had to get out of the instrument business and go into hiding. If he is still alive, he is in trouble.

If you want to live a happy and fulfilling life and follow your dreams, you are best off starting on the right foot. Either let the rim go, or recut it in such a manner that it is no longer a copy of a patented item.

A backwoods fellow once told a high finance guy who was in trouble: "If you go far enough down the wrong road, sooner or later you get to the wrong place." The high finance guy said he couldn't argue with that, and at that moment began to change the way he lived his life. He does not regret that decision.

Aug 18, 2020 - 12:44:54 PM

2260 posts since 4/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Blue20Boy17

So if I fix this rim up and decide to sell it, should I just be like "This rim uses a thinner thickness to increase vibrations and enhance tone, and utilizes a woodie profile that brings the bass of a flathead but the clarity of an archtop" or something like that?


Be honest about it. "the rim is not of uniform thickness (due to....). However, it does produce good tone & volume" & let it go at that.

Aug 20, 2020 - 4:31:27 AM

FXHERE

USA

1805 posts since 9/6/2003

The thin skirt rim was made long before Tony Pass. Tommy George, a well known Luthier from Somerville, Tn. has a thin cut rim from 50-70 years ago, or longer, made by someone who did it with a knife, it looks like.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.265625