A Texas federal jury selected Friday (Could 27) that Dean Guitars bought counterfeit guitars that infringed the trademark on Gibson Manufacturers Inc.‘s Flying V guitar and different iconic fashions, and dismissed Dean‘s efforts to cancel a number of Gibson logos as generic.
In Could 2019, Gibson filed a lawsuit in opposition to Armadillo Enterprises, the mum or dad firm of Dean Guitars, accusing it of infringing on seven of Gibson‘s logos, together with the physique form design of the Flying V, Explorer, ES and SG, in addition to the “Dove Wing” headstock design, the “Hummingbird” identify and the “Moderne” trademark. The lawsuit, which was filed in a Texas court docket, additionally accused Armadillo of trademark counterfeiting — successfully claiming that Armadillo was attempting to deceive or mislead the general public into pondering that the guitars made by Dean are the truth is Gibsons, or have some connection to Gibson. Armadillo filed a countersuit in July 2020, accusing Gibson of “tortious interference with Armadillo‘s enterprise relationships and/or contracts”. In an announcement, Armadillo mentioned that Dean Guitars had been “constantly providing the V and Z-shaped guitars at difficulty within the lawsuit since no less than 1976 — for over the previous forty years. And Dean Guitars just isn’t alone; different guitar corporations have for many years used the commonplace guitar shapes that Gibson now tries to assert unique rights to.”
In Friday’s verdict, the jurors rejected Dean‘s arguments that the designs in query had turn out to be so commonplace that they are now “generic” and “unprotectable”. However the jury additionally discovered that Gibson “delayed in asserting its trademark proper(s)” in opposition to Dean and that the delay was “inexcusable”, thereby inflicting “undue prejudice” to Armadillo. In consequence, the jury mentioned Gibson had suffered no precise hurt and awarded the corporate simply $4,000 in so-called statutory damages.
In an announcement following the decision, Gibson mentioned: “The court docket’s determination by jury right this moment, to uphold Gibson‘s long-established and well-recognized logos for Gibson‘s revolutionary and iconic guitar shapes is a win for Gibson and the music group at massive. The court docket discovered that the Gibson Logos are legitimate, the Gibson shapes will not be generic, and the defendants have been responsible of each infringement and counterfeiting. Gibson could be very happy with the result after years of merely attempting to guard their model and enterprise by properly acknowledged mental property rights, rights which have been Gibson‘s for many years.
“Gibson‘s guitar shapes are iconic, and now are firmly protected for the previous, current, and future. From a broader perspective, this court docket determination can be a win for Gibson Followers, Artists, Sellers, and associated Companions who anticipate and deserve authenticity. To not point out for all the iconic American manufacturers which have invested in significant innovation and continued safety, solely to see it diluted with unauthorized and infrequently illegitimate knockoffs. Gibson can now focus consideration on persevering with to leverage its iconic previous, and put money into future innovation, with confidence.”
Again in June 2019, Gibson uploaded a since-deleted video to YouTube through which then-director of name expertise Mark Agnesi mentioned trademark infringement. Within the video, Agnesi cautioned different guitar builders: “You might have been warned. We’re searching and we’re right here to guard our iconic legacy.”
In its authentic lawsuit, Gibson famous that it had despatched Armadillo a number of cease-and-desist letters over time however that Armadillo had did not cease its “unauthorized” use of Gibson‘s logos.
Dean Guitars‘ tackle the Flying V and Explorer — the aforementioned V and Z — have been in manufacturing because the firm was based by luthier Dean Zelinsky. Most notably, Dean Guitars‘ V has turn out to be intently related to legendary German guitarist Michael Schenker.