According to reports from Guitar.com and Gear News, Gibson has accused Dean’s parent company Armadillo Distribution Enterprises for infringing on seven of its copyrighted designs, including the body shape of the Flying V. Explorer, SG and ES models in addition to the Dove Wing headstock design, the Moderne trademark and the name Hummingbird.
Supposedly, Gibson are under the impression that Dean are misleading consumers to believe that their models are in fact official Gibson guitars, and as a result, are filing for Trademark Counterfeiting, which would result in them seeking much higher damages. Gibson have also allegedly requested that a jury trial resolves the case. A similar lawsuit has also been filed against Luna Guitars for their ES-335 copies.
In an official response, Dean Guitars CEO Evan Robinson has swatted the lawsuit aside, stating that “Gibson’s claims are totally baseless” and seemingly digging his heels into the dirt in a letter sent to Dean distributors – “We respect and value the intellectual property rights of others. But … some things are just too common and basic for one company to claim as their own property … We want to vigorously defend ourselves and seek to cancel Gibson’s alleged trademark registrations.”
Given that Gibson have previously tried (and failed) to use the courts of law to halt the success of their competition (remember when they sued PRS Guitars for using a singlecut design and then had to pay all of PRS’s legal fees when they lost the suit?), we’re very interested to see how this turns out. Hopefully Gibson don’t tarnish their legacy by spending all their efforts aimlessly suing competitors – we reckon they’d be much better off trying not to alienate younger players and just sticking to making great instruments that don’t cost a fortune. A man can dream…
Stay tuned to Mixdown for further developments on this story as they come.