I was reading the code of industrial property in my country, not unlike the laws of the rest of the world as there are international agreements on coordination of laws in this area.
As well said by Mr. Dave, you may not reproduce or imitate the brand in a product so as to confuse the consumer. This is the main point of the use of trademarks.
The other two main points are:
Product counterfeiting/false advertising
Unfair competition and related interpretations.
With amp modelers it gets a little blurry. First because the companies do not have the property of sound waves - thats the case of IR based on famous brands.
Second the amp modelers offer a way for you to achieve a particular sound. It is not offered the product which is itself and notoriously characterized by the peculiar sound.
Therefore, offering a product that says "sound like the original/realone" "based on" is not to say "is the original" . But it has to be made clear to the consumer
. (Even the amp companies that have a amp modelers cannot estrictly say "its the real thing, because fisicallly it's not).
It's like a company A to offer green. Another (company B) offers blue and yellow and says that if you mix the two you can get something green. The greens may be similar, but are essentially different. It only may harm if campany B sell the mix saying "it's real green, its better thans A's green...."as I will explain later.
From what I know and see, we( the headmakers, only) could even be framed in such a case of infringiment (hypothetically GAM too, for providing the access to it/store it - If GAM had chosen to risk maintaining it as it was. - , but depends, also, on the law of the country which Gam is hosted). But we are not charging and not taking anyadvantage of the brands. In fact, we could only be held liable because, potentially, we could confuse people but even so, for it, but for this it is necessary that it characterized the deliberate intention to deceive, intentionally mislead the consumerto the wrong way . And It is not product counterfeiting/false advertising because we are not selling this thigs as real amps (or selling at all) nor claiming any relationship with the owners of the trademark.
BUT as we can see nor Acmebargig or GAM, supports, encourages or suggests that, either officially or unofficially. For sure Acmebargig would never distributing or using the trademark's companies and skins w/ logos that was created for us of in their products, and never ask or asked any kind of money for that.
Still, it is quite reasonable "fear" that GAM may feel about it.
We still need to clarify some things about this subject:
Here the "fair use" is only allowed to quote, in speeches, scientific or literary or other publication without commercial character and without detriment to the distinctive character of the mark. Not unlike the rest of the world as I said before.
The distinctiveness of the mark, ( the things that the owner intended to be represented by it) is, in turn, important for the meaning of "unfair competition". ( I do not know if this is the equivalent term in english)
"Unfair competition" occurs when it is denigrated the image of the competition, or the product in its various forms. It may be false claims, theft of clients, advertising similar to cause confusion, repackaging, falsely claiming trademark use license, product counterfeiting/false advertising etc.
At this point enters the example of Ken, about a" booger"amp in the same advertisement with some mesa boogie real amp.
That does not enter in the legal definition of "fair use" but something at the same level of blind tests of beer, what, here, is called "comparative advertising".
The comparative advertising is clouded because it provides the possibility of lawsuits if the company discredit or denigrate the products of its competitors. That's because this type of marketing must be done within the legal and ethical boundaries of business and advertising.
This leads to what is defined as "trade dress" and the "parasitic competition" (especific forms of Unfair competition)
"Trade dress" is when a product is similar in its packaging with another product from another company (also applies to brands)
"parasitc competition" Is when some product takes advantage of the existence of the another for its own sales, primarily because of the similarity of appearance.
Even in the world of amp companies themselves, it is blurred. All amps are modifications developments and experiments each other. I remember a review that came out in Guitar Player in December 1996. A shootout of 19 amps and a meeting between the engineers of the most famous companies. : Many at the time did not care to have been mere copies or modifications;http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-17741238.html
In the amp modeling world can we say that is essentially a parasitic competition????? Yes
. Every amp modeler owes its survival based on the physical existence of amps that produce a certain characteristic tone.
But is another product as i said before. You're not selling the real deal. You're selling your product and the product can achieve some characterístics sounds.
Still, make a comparative test, even just to compare the sound quality in advertising can bring legal problems. I do not recommend doing this officially.
It can be argued that skins would be "trade dress"?
Not since skins themselves are only similar images and not the amp itself. If it has no copyrighted logo its ok. Moreover, all known amps modelers have skins with similarities to the amps modeled.You cannot say that the image of a anti-slip steel plate is an exclusive boogie for exemple.
The PRS X Gibson case was cool ( thanks atalwar).
I personally, too, see much difference between the use of industrial technologies with the use of brands .. The design of something physical, which interferes in the use and characteristics of the product I would consider as an "invention" or "utility model", which has another legal treatment inm my country". If I were the judge, the PRS would have lost