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Having started as a relatively unknown and low-budget Japanese guitar brand, Ibanez discovered the way to success around 1970 when they started making copies of well-known American guitars like Gibson, Fender and Rickenbacker.
They did a good job: the guitars were good copies, at least from a visual point of view.
Non-Free Traders take note: they were able to make these guitars affordable due to cheaper materials and labor, coupled with a higher level of automation when compared to their American counterparts. Rosenbloom figured it out early: make a guitar that looks great and similar to a big name guitar and people will buy it.
This is precisely the phenomenon we see with todays Epiphones.
Ironically, by the fall of 1976 Ibanez had redesigned their headstocks to look much like those found Guild guitars.
While "lawsuit" head generally means a Gibson copy headstock, the Ibanez headstock at the time of the lawsuit was actually a copy of a Guild headstock.
In a stroke of remarkable insight -- and 90s style outsourcing -- Elger Guitars chose to become the exclusive North American distributors for the Hoshino Gakki Gen Company, a Japanese instrument manufacturer.
Remember that back in the 60s and would use this as their product name.
The quality of Ibanez guitars increased rapidly during this period.
Many set-neck copies like the Model 2459 Destroyer, an Explorer copy and its Flying V counterpart, the Rocket Roll Sr., we pretty decent guitars, but probably weren't as good as the Gibson/Norlin guitars of the era.
On June 28, 1977, Norlin, the parent company of Gibson, filed a lawsuit against Elger (Ibanez) in Philadelphia Federal District Court . Elger Co." with Gibson claiming trademark infringement based on the duplicate "open book" or "moustache" headstock design of the Ibanez copies.