I have been told that the Vigier neck with carbon/graphite splice is "patented". Has anyone got any info on this?
Does it mean that making and selling a guitar with a carbon/graphite neck reinforcement is illegal!?!?!
If someone has a patent for something like this, they have the right to prohibit others from using the method or device, or to negotiate with the party to receive compensation in return for either exclusive or nonexclusive rights to use it. If that party chooses not to negotiate any rights and instead implements the device, they are considered in infringement of the patent. In this situation, the patent holder can sue for damages.
In this specific instance, it would be very important to have access to the patent. It would provide information like the issue date and the priority date. The latter is most important because it drives a stack in the time line for invention and is basically a claim that there was no prior art preceding that date that would have suggested the use of carbon fiber rods as stabilizers for guitar necks. If one can clearly demonstrate the use of carbon fiber material for that purpose earlier than the priority date for the patent, then the patent can be successfully challenged.
Personally, I wouldn't sweat it for two reasons. First, it is throwing money down a rat hole for Vigier to go after someone who makes just a few guitars a year. The legal costs well outweigh the damages. Taylor, on the other hand.... Second, I'm willing to be that the patent could be overturned on the basis of prior art or on the basis that it would be obvious to someone skilled in the art if all they're claiming is stiffening the neck, possibly with some acoustic consequences also.
Still, it would be important to see the patent and know what is claimed. They may be doing something with the material that is unique and not obvious, in which case the likelihood of any of us doing the same thing is pretty low anyway.
Hi, Ron. When I was but a cub post-doc in industrial research it certainly was true that you couldn't patent an idea. However, in the intervening 30+ years, the law has actually changed to allow the filing of patents on ideas. I am a recent co-inventor on one such patent.
A look at the Vigier web site reveals that they have in fact reduced to practice some sort of carbon fiber+wood design into their premium guitar necks. They call it their 10/90 neck (10% carbon/90% wood). The specifics of how they're doing it are revealed and they talk about some sort of proprietary technology plus basic trade secrecy.