Jessup, Maryland - Feb. 2008:
Now approaching its 40th year of designing and building high-end analog consoles and outboard processors, API Audio announced that it has been granted a trademark for its signature dual-concentric knob. Trademark for the knob, which graces every piece of API gear, and is immediately recognizable as the "look" of API, was issued on January 1, 2008. Just as API's trademark of its logo prevents other companies from copying its design, API's trademark of its knob prevents other companies from copying the knob's distinctive look.
The API knob has been in use by the company for decades, so why did API move to protect it now? Explained Larry Droppa, president of API, "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. We felt it was especially important to protect API now, given the many studios and engineers investing in API equipment based on its distinct sound and reputation for excellence."
While trademarks for logos can be relatively easy to get, trademarks for shape or form are generally not. 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 the pro audio world, the "API knob" is analogous to the Coca-Cola bottle. Even with the API logo covered up, knowledgeable engineers recognize API gear by the knobs alone.
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. "With the trademark in place," added Droppa, "users can be assured of the integrity of our brand. The API look means the API sound, and the API sound continues to mean absolutely stunning audio."