The Bigsby Division of the Gretsch Company will be exhibiting at the 2009 Trademark Expo presented by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on May 8 and 9. The event will be held at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The goal of the Expo is to educate the public about the important role that trademarks play in our society and in the global marketplace.
One hundred companies applied to exhibit at the expo. The Bigsby Division of Gretsch was one of sixteen to be selected, in recognition of its distinctive tremolo tailpieces for guitars. The unique trademarked shape of Bigsby tailpieces will be in company at the Expo with internationally familiar trademarks belonging to Travelers insurance, Hershey chocolate products, UPS, and Bridgestone tires.
Gretsch guitars have featured Bigsby vibrato tailpieces for more than forty-five years. So when Bigsby owner Ted McCarty wished to retire in 1999, it was a natural progression to make Bigsby a part of the Gretsch Guitar Company. Says company owner Fred Gretsch, “Gretsch and Bigsby are often thought of together. Now we’re one company.”
The Bigsby/Gretsch display at the USPTO Expo is slated to include information on the company’s history, including the fact that Gretsch owns a registration for the configuration of a Bigsby-design guitar, as well as for the surname Bigsby. The display will also demonstrate the importance of Bigsby trademarks and the impact they have as source identifiers in the marketplace. Like most effective trademarks, the very shape of Bigsby tailpieces identifies them-even at a distance, when the brand name cannot be read. This allows Bigsby-equipped guitars to be recognized on concert stages and video broadcasts.
The inherent distinctiveness of the Bigsby tailpiece design has aided the Gretsch Company in getting the protectable portions registered. This, in turn, has helped Gretsch to pursue its campaign (as part of the Electric Guitar Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition) to stem the proliferation of counterfeit instruments wherever they are manufactured.
The world-wide proliferation of counterfeit instruments underscores the importance of strong trademark protection, along with the impact of creative and recognizable trademark designs. The USPTO Expo will address these issues with displays from Bigsby and the other participants, along with lectures, tours, and educational activities for children.
For more information on the Expo, go to www.uspto.gov.
For more information on Bigsby products and the Gretsch/Bigsby connection, go to www.bigsbyguitars.com.