Gibson threatens builders with similarly designed guitars

Posted at 8:41 PM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 21:41:27-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gibson Guitars has sent a message to the guitar world: Don’t steal our trademarked designs, or we’ll come for you.

In a video posted to YouTube and later removed, Gibson’s director of brand experience, Mark Agnesi, laid out the history and design of Gibson’s instruments, and let the world know if they didn’t already that many of the shapes and designs of Gibson guitars are trademarked.

“Any copy of any one of those designs that we’ve named is in fact by definition a counterfeit Gibson guitar,” Agnesi said in the video, adding that they would come after builders and manufacturers that are using their trademarked designs. “We want you to know that you’ve been warned. We’re looking out, and we’re here to protect our iconic legacy and the designs that we’ve created over generations.”

The video was removed by Gibson after backlash from the guitar community, with many bringing up the fact that Gibson has previously manufactured guitars that look like Fender guitars, and that many companies have been making guitars for years, if not decades, with no issue from Gibson.

Still, Gibson filed a lawsuit against Dean Guitars and Luna Guitars for using Gibson’s trademarked designs on their guitars.

Dean Guitars has been manufacturing guitars since 1977, including a guitar that shares the look of Gibson’s Flying V guitar, and that’s one of the guitars included in the lawsuit.

“In my opinion, why are they waiting? They should have done it years ago,” Scott Seymour of Nashville Used & New Music said.

Seymour worked at Gibson and is familiar with their trademarks. He’s seen plenty of companies use the likeness of Gibson guitars in their designs, but he’s not sure why Gibson would be suing a brand over a guitar that has been in production for decades, rather than going after guitar manufacturers that are building exact replicas of Gibson guitars, some of which even bare the Gibson name, and are usually manufactured overseas for the lowest cost possible, then imported into the United States.

“I think they should go after them and not allow them to even come into the United States through Amazon, slap a lawsuit on the people who are distributing those guitars so that we don’t have that grey market area,” Seymour said.

Others have posted online that Gibson suing other guitar manufacturers is a slippery slope. Many guitar manufacturers steal certain design elements of other guitars to create new guitars, some of which guitar players like more than the originals thanks to tweaks and changes that builders make.

The most common comment on social media is that Gibson should focus on making great guitars rather than suing other companies, as Gibson is just coming out of bankruptcy with new leaders in place.

“I think that they should concentrate on making a better guitar, maybe being intuitive and bringing something out that actually working musicians would love to have,” Seymour said, agreeing with many posting online.

NewsChannel 5 reached out to Gibson for comment, but never received a response.

They have, however, launched a website where you can report ‘counterfeit' Gibson guitars, as well as a webpage where you can see all of their trademarked material.

Gibson has previously filed lawsuits against guitar companies including Ibanez and PRS for similar issues of using Gibson’s trademarked designs, some of which they’ve won, and some of which they’ve lost.