$260,000 bust on fakes

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by Jelly Roll Horton, Jun 21, 2021.

  1. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Good point.

    Throw them in water and see if they float. If they float, they are witches and should be burned at the stake but if they drown, they are innocent. :)

    upload_2021-6-23_5-8-43.jpeg

    In all seriousness, anyone that deliberately involves themselves in this sort of thing should be brought to justice, but, in all fairness, you can’t convict someone for simply wanting to commit a crime. They have to actually break the law at some point, or another.
     
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  2. drmilktruck

    drmilktruck I Bleed Orange

    May 17, 2009
    Plymouth, MN
    There are sites that sell "Gretsch" guitars for $400. Those are fakes. Fireflys are clearly labelled as such. While based on an LP, the sellers aren't claiming it's a real Gibson. Modding a guitar to look like a specific model isn't a problem unless you try to sell it as the real deal. If the standard is that only the seminal model is legitimate, most guitar models would be "fake" then. There are many guitars built by respected companies that couldn't be sold. Lots of Strat, Tele, LP inspired axes out there by ESP, Schecter, PRS and many others. The Duo Jet is based on the Les Paul template, the original Corvette on the LP Jr, the second version on the SG.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
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  3. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Exactly. There are protectable aspects of an instrument, such as headstock shape, but one can build something very close to a name brand instrument without violating anyone’s rights.

    For example, there are all sorts of people out there building classic amp designs, and as long as they do t attempt to pass them off as the real thing, there’s nothing wrong with that. Leo Fender, himself, used circuit ideas from tube manuals, and that was fine. If someone builds a replica of a Deluxe Reverb, they don’t owe Fender anything, but if they call it a Deluxe Reverb, they either have to do so under a licensing agreement, or they are violating the rights of FMIC.

    I mention this last point, because “Fender Japan” instruments were essentially built under license. Fender in the US had a degree of control in the matter and benefited from the venture, which is why these instruments were able to legally bear the Fender headstock and logo.

    During WW II, Willys owned the Jeep design, but most were actually manufactured by Ford. Willys retained a degree of control over the way these Jeeps were made, and they received a license fee for every example built.

    One thing that many people don’t realize is that many fakes, are marketed as just that. If someone wants to make a guitar which resembles a Gretsch or a Gibson and sell it as a Gertsch or a Chibson, there’s not really much that anyone can do, so long as the builder doesn’t impose on any protected designs or attempt to use any logos, etc. To the best of my understanding, many of these fakes (which wouldn’t fool anyone) are sold as just that; fake copies. If I do my lame impression of John Wayne in a public venue, I’m free and clear, but if I bill myself as John Wayne, that’s another matter.
     
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  4. juks

    juks Synchromatic

    696
    Nov 26, 2020
    Fremont, California
    Yes, you can't call Firefly, Donner, Court etc fake as they take inspiration from the big brands but don't pretend to be them. They sell under their own brand and if they produce a copy that it too much like the source, they would get sued by the owner of the original design.

    It's entirely different ball game when somebody makes a fake with the original brand name on it and all.
     
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  5. Jelly Roll Horton

    Jelly Roll Horton Country Gent

    Nov 10, 2017
    Portland, OR
    That distinction has kept me out of trouble many times. :rolleyes:
     
  6. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    They did break the law by buying counterfeit goods - just because the authorities caught them in the middle of the transaction doesn't mean it's legal. It may just not be worth the effort to prosecute individual buyers. And they also presumably lost the money they used to purchase the guitar.
     
  7. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Giving the benefit of the doubt maybe some didn’t know they were counterfeit. But I would think some did know and intended to really for a profit.
     
  8. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    $260,000? Thats like 1,000,000 chibsons!
     
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  9. Jelly Roll Horton

    Jelly Roll Horton Country Gent

    Nov 10, 2017
    Portland, OR
    I can send you a free 20% off coupon for only $15. I accept PayPal. Save now!
     
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  10. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    I’m certainly no barrister, but I would assume that making an instrument which uses a protected logo and/or a protected headstock shape would be the first place where they would run afoul of the law. Would that be a civil violation, or a criminal violation?

    Once again, risking an assumption, I would imagine that even making a copy for one’s own use would not be legal, if that involved copying protected elements, although I doubt that they would beat down your door for building your own clone, so long as you didn’t do anything conspicuous.

    Knowingly buying a fake and reselling it as the real thing would seem likely to open more doors. Specifically, I could see that being considered conspiracy to commit fraud, or something along those lines.

    I have no sympathy for anyone that would counterfeit guitars, but I’ve heard that never little on a guitar is actually protected. Headstock shapes and logos. If there were proprietary pickups, that might come under patent laws, but to the best of my knowledge, you can build the functional equivalent of a guitar so long as you stay away from the handful of things that are protected. Almost all of the technology in anything I own has been around a long time and I suppose that most of the patents have long since expired.
     
  11. juks

    juks Synchromatic

    696
    Nov 26, 2020
    Fremont, California
    Funny because the US Customs website states that it is illegal to purchase counterfeit goods.

    Either way, if you claim you did not know it was counterfeit and you only purchased one unit of such product, they have no way of proving otherwise.

    And government agencies and US military have unknowingly purchased counterfeit goods. I doubt they were prosecuted.
     
  12. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    I clicked the second link and the following message pops up: "This is archived content from the U.S. Department of Justice website. The information here may be outdated and links may no longer function." (Emphasis added.)

    Also, the article states "Thus it is not a crime under this act for an individual knowingly to purchase goods bearing counterfeit marks, if the purchase is for the individual's personal use." (Emphasis added.)

    So it does not say it is legal, it says it is not a crime under that particular act. Murder may not be a crime under the same act, but it does not mean it is legal. :rolleyes:

    Having said all that I don't know the details, and my suggestion is to avoid it altogether!
     
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  13. amp360

    amp360 Synchromatic

    511
    Oct 21, 2012
    Maryland
    They should prosecute anyone who ordered one and fine them something like $100,000 or Federal prison or both. If they made a few examples out of people the market would dry up.
     
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  14. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    That is certainly what the music tried to do after the advent of Napster. I think they made more enemies than progress.
     
  15. Setzerhotrod

    Setzerhotrod Country Gent

    Age:
    60
    Oct 26, 2011
    Anchorage Alaska
    Hmmmm…
    Do you punish the drug user, the drug seller, or just legalize the drugs?
     
  16. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Drug manufactures and dealers I feel very strongly about.
     
  17. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    I think it’s safe to say that if you inadvertently buy a counterfeit instrument, you are unlikely to be prosecuted, but if you participate in the fraudulent sales of counterfeit instruments, you might find yourself in some hot water.

    IMHO, if you knowingly buy a counterfeit, that’s very poor judgment. I don’t want a counterfeit anything in my life. Trying to game the system by buying something you know to be of inferior quality is foolish.

    I know people like that; people that think that in every transaction, you can beat the system. About the only free thing I’ve ever gotten that was worth anything at all has been Linux. If you buy a Chibson thinking that it’s a cheap way to get a real Les Paul, you will end up disappointed and will have wasted your money. Bell Helmets used to advertise: “If you have a ten dollar head, buy a ten dollar helmet. If not, buy a Bell.” Good advice.

    If you want a good, serviceable guitar, spend a fair price and you will get a good guitar. I played an Electromatic yesterday that was $550 and it was a pretty decent guitar. Fair price, fair value.

    There was an old sign that Ernie Ball would send out to music stores. I keep a copy of it on the wall of my office. “Quality is like buying oats. If you want good, clean oats, you have to pay a fair price. If you want oats that have already been through the horse once, they are slightly less expensive.”
     
  18. doc538

    doc538 Electromatic

    59
    Sep 20, 2017
    Massachusetts
    Most of what you say is true but I disagree with the Fire Fly, The logo on the headstock is Firefly Not Chibson, It is a clone just as a Squire is a Fender clone, neither are illegal rip off fakes. These impounded guitars are Outright Fakes that use the original names and Logos, making you think you are buying the REAL thing. That is beyond bad. I guy I knew in Boston who sold "Stolen" Rolexes and other high-end watches on a street corner for 1-5 hundred bucks a piece from his long overcoat. Truth was he had a license to sell knock off jewelry which cost about $3.00 a piece. On close inspection the names were always misspelled but greed makes your brain miss the misspelled names. I still have one of three Rolexes I bought for $5.00 to impress the ladies and it still runs almost 50 years later.
     
  19. juks

    juks Synchromatic

    696
    Nov 26, 2020
    Fremont, California
    I agree, there's a big difference between a fake and legal clone.
     
  20. fsdphcorrigan

    fsdphcorrigan Gretschie

    105
    Aug 30, 2019
    Lake Oswego, Oregon
    This is the same kind of math used for large drug busts.
     
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