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The wild guitar god: virtuoso, innovator, brand

Jimi Hendrix´ 75th birthday

On November 27th he would have turned 75 years old: Jimi Hendrix, probably the most influential guitarist of all time. No one played the electric guitar as innovative and revolutionary as he did. That's why Hendrix is regularly voted the best guitarist of all time in surveys. In the few years from his first record to his untimely death in 1970, he changed the history of the instrument and rock music forever.

Behind Hendrix’ unique play was not only virtuoso skill, but also a lot of new technology that he used either as the first or at least as no other.

His favourite guitar was the Fender Stratocaster - which he occasionally liked to smash or burn on stage - and which, thanks to him, is still one of the best-known and best-selling instruments. One of its technical features was the tremolo lever arm ( pdf-Datei patented in the USA 1954). Hendrix was the first to fully exploit the sound possibilities of this lever arm and make it an important stylistic element of his playing. His famous version of the American anthem at the Woodstock Festival - unthinkable without this patent!

A technical innovation has also been popularized by Hendrix: the Wah-Wah pedal, an effect device that is patented by the US ( pdf-Datei US 3530224) in 1967 with a German family member ( pdf-Datei DE1264225A). Listen to "Voodoo chile" during the intro, for example.

Jimi Hendrix with guitar

To get close to his complex sound (which is difficult because the left-handed player played an upside-down right-handed guitar) Hendrix’ countless epigones had to buy various devices for a lot of money and had to put together his "line-up" - guitar, effects, amplifiers, speakers - laboriously.

Thanks to various technical innovations, it is now possible to digitally imitate Hendrix’ analog sound with just one device. With the aid of so-called modeling technology, digital signal processors can be used to program amplifiers, effect devices and even electric guitars in such a way that the typical sound characteristics of certain popular models can be called up at the touch of a button. While the traditional valve amplifiers used by Hendrix and its successors (always turned on full throttle) offer virtually only one characteristic tone, a modeling amp can digitally produce numerous "classic" rock sounds - even at room volume.

Some traditionalists may reject this "synthetic" sound, but the underlying technology is highly successful on the market and is constantly being refined, as recent patents show: Hendrix’ guitar maker Fender also introduced a digital module for universal use with electric guitars and accessories ( pdf-Datei US 7678985 B2 (1,2 MB), registered 2007). Other manufacturers, for example, offer a programmable amp pedalboard that provides guitarists with freely selectable digital effects and switching functions on stage ( pdf-Datei US 8957297 B2 (1,21 MB), announced 2013). These and all other important technical innovations in rock music can be researched in the DPMA databases.

Jimi Hendrix, the wild guitar god, has long since become a trademark himself - literally: his name is registered at the DPMA as a trademark ; his signature is registered as a figurative mark for classes of goods such as music or clothing.

Study on ICT Patents

A study on patents in information and communication technology (ICT) has been carried out as part of the CIFRA research project. The "CIFRA Report on Challenges and Solutions related to Patents in ICT" draws on the experience of many different actors in the European Union. CIFRA is funded by the European Research Framework Programme HORIZONT 2020.
Information about the project and the study can be found here:

DPMA delegation in China - 16 to 20 October 2017

Skyline of Beijing

The State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (SIPO) and the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) have been successfully cooperating for 35 years. The two institutions are now working together on various projects, such as the Patent Prosecution Highway for accelerated examination of patent applications. From 16 to 20 October, a DPMA delegation visited the SIPO in Bejing and Shanghai. The main topics to be discussed were further cooperation between the offices and the challenges of the future in the context of digitisation and Industry 4.0.

More information on this is available in our International Cooperation section.

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Our newsletter (in German only!) offers current information on the fields of activity of the DPMA, particularly on search tools and databases. You can have a look at the current issue here.

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Pictures:, Picture: Steve Banks / by Creative Commons / ccbysa4.0/ / via Wikimedia Commons,

Last updated: 23/11/17 


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