Left: A 1959 Les Paul Standard owned by John Clardy. Photo by Billy Mitchell taken from Electric Guitars & Basses: A Photographic History by George Gruhn and Walter Carter, © Gruhn Guitars, used by permission. Right: A PRS SC 245. Photo courtesy of PRS Guitars.

A brief history of the peculiar behind-the-scenes war over guitar designs.

One day in 2003, music attorney Ron Bienstock was doing some routine background research for a guitar-making client when he came across something he found troubling: Fender Musical Instrument Corp. (FMIC) had applied to the US government for a trademark on the body shapes of three of its most famous and successful guitars: the Stratocaster, the Telecaster, and the Precision bass.
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