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.
Allegedly Gibson had threatened to sue Elger/Ibanez for a long time regarding the use of the headstock which Norlin claimed as a Gibson trademark.
Routings for electronics and wiring were pretty rough in a manner similar to todays Indonesian guitars.
But Ibanez got very popular because young guitarists that could not afford a Gibson or a Fender could buy a guitar that offered a good balance between price and quality..looked professional!
It is an urban legend that the Gibson/Norlin lawsuit was filed against a number of Japanese companies.
It is also commonly held it was over the exact copying of American designs. This headstock change came shortly after Ibanez introduced serial numbers.
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.
The first models introduced after the agreement were the ..all of those knobs!Hoshino did maintain Elger's Pennsylvania facilities to check incoming shipments and correct any flaws prior to shipping merchandise out to their dealers.It is also my understanding that the serial numbers were actually placed on the guitars in the USA when that practice started.Ironically, by the fall of 1976 Ibanez had redesigned their headstocks to look much like those found Guild guitars.The new headstock design even appeared in the 1976 catalog!He made the first few instruments himself in 1959, but quickly realized the challenges of producing sufficient quantities of guitars.