The guitar manufacturer Fender, has failed in it’s appeal to register the shapes of three of its guitars as trade marks. The US Patent and Trade Mark Office held that that the shapes of the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Precision Bass guitars had been widely used by other guitar manufacturers for so long that Fender could no longer claim to hold rights in the shapes. The case was raised by seventeen guitar manufacturers, represented by lawyer and bassist Ron Bienstock, who is reported to have come across Fender’s trade mark application in 2003 whilst completing due diligence for a client. In a decision of 75 pages, with over twenty thousand pages of evidence, it was held that Fender had failed to acquire distinctiveness in the shapes through their use in the guitars.
From http://www.shepwedd.co.uk/knowledge/article/986-2407/high-profile-music-disputes-create-feedback/email Shepherd & Wedderburn’s Intellectual Property e-bulletin 6th May 2009.