Guitar shapes are almost like fingerprints for companies that manufacture them. When a guitar company has been around for a long time, it’s relatively easy to identify one of their guitars just by the shape. The guitar’s headstock is also an identifiable characteristic that companies hold tight to. Gibson guitars are no different, and some of their guitar shapes are iconic in the industry.
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It’s also relatively well known in music circles that companies tend to fight hard to keep others from infringing on their intellectual property. Fender fought hard to trademark its iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster body shapes but lost and was only to trademark its headstock shapes. This is why you see many “Strat-style” guitars on the market. Companies like Sire and PRS can use the Strat shape as long as they use a different headstock.
But Gibson is notorious for fighting tooth and nail to get their way, and according to a company press release, they have won a ruling on the matter via a jury. This is what the press release had to say about it:
Gibson Wins Historic and Definitive Ruling On Its Iconic Guitar Shapes and Trademarks.
Court Ruling By Jury Asserts Validity of Gibson Trademarks — Deems Them Not Generic — Putting Gibson In A Position To Own Their Legacy Innovations And Be Future Focused.
The court’s decision by jury today, to uphold Gibson’s long-established and well-recognized trademarks for Gibson’s innovative and iconic guitar shapes is a win for Gibson and the music community at large. The court found that the Gibson Trademarks are valid, the Gibson shapes are not generic, and the defendants were guilty of both infringement and counterfeiting. Gibson is very pleased with the outcome after years of simply trying to protect their brand and business through well recognized intellectual property rights, rights that have been Gibson’s for decades.
Gibson’s guitar shapes are iconic, and now are firmly protected for the past, present, and future. From a broader perspective, this court decision is also a win for Gibson Fans, Artists, Dealers, and related Partners who expect and deserve authenticity. Not to mention for all of the iconic American brands that have invested in meaningful innovation and continued protection, only to see it diluted with unauthorized and often illegitimate knockoffs. Gibson can now focus attention on continuing to leverage its iconic past, and invest in future innovation, with confidence.Gibson
This ruling will affect many guitar makers as dozens of them make Les Paul, SG, and Flying V-shaped guitars. It will be interesting to see if there are any challenges to the ruling and who might step up and challenge it.
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