Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
API awarded design trademark for signature knob
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted API Audio a trademark for its signature dual-concentric knob. The knob, which is featured on every piece of API gear, has come to be recognized as part of API’s industrial design and functionality. Even with the API logo covered, knowledgeable audio engineers recognize API gear by the knobs alone.
While trademarks for logos can be relatively easy to get, trademarks for shape or form are not common. However, in some instances, the look of a product is integral to its function and may convey information about the brand that is just as potent as the brand's trademark. The most famous example of this concept is the trademarked shape of a Coca-Cola bottle. In pro audio, the Shure 55SH microphone is similarly protected. Now, the API knob has joined these iconic designs in gaining full trademark protection.
The API knob has been in use by the company for decades. Company president Larry Droppa explained, "We secured the trademark primarily to protect our loyal customers, and to remove the temptation from other manufacturers to confuse the marketplace by copying or approximating the API look."
API's legal team proved to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that the API knob deserved protection, partly by submitting letters from users, dealers and even two major competitors who testified to the knob's unmistakable connection to API.
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