IS THE ES-335 TRADEMARK FIGHT GIBSON’S BIGGEST LEGAL BATTLE YET?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by warrent, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    I have nothing against Gibson Guitars but with the company I'm not so sure. The 335 case is interesting because if Gibson won it would almost end consumer choice in the semi solid market. This really isn't about trademark infringement at this late date. Gibson didn't go after Guild or Fender when they produced their versions. They didn't go after Ibanez either once Ibanez changed the headstock shape.
    This feels more like a very large company trying to put it's competition out of business. And make no mistake Gibson is backed by a very large company that loves to litigate things. Gibson doesn't have any debt at this point and it's owner KKR has over 140 billion dollars under management.
    Today is a great time to buy guitars and we have a lot of choice in the market now. Whether it's Dean, Godin, Collins, Warmoth, Schector, ESP, Ibanez and so on these companies all give us something different from the standard models of the fifties and it would be a big loss to our art form for Gibson to retroactively be able to take that choice away from us.
     
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  2. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

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    I don't really care about all this......
    What has it got to do with me ?
    Someone will determine if they win or not
    If they do win , the other guys will just have to adjust the shape a bit , what is the problem ?
    I don't care whatsoever about Gibson , the company
    OR , Fender for that matter......The world is full of fine guitars , and it will be forever , doesn't make me sweat !
     
  3. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I spent my career hiring lawyers, wisely they don't make bold predictions, however in my experience they have a pretty good feel for their litigation. My guess in this matter is Gibson's failure to act for 50 odd years will mean the they're going to lose.
     
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  4. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Holic

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    Exactly! Well put. After the early 2000's I stopped paying attention to new Gibson's. If you didn't like the first one don't waste your time on the other7.

    Gibson's newer affordable lines are too little too late. If they'd done that before the "Fibson" market wouldn't exist.
     
  5. john_cribbin

    john_cribbin Tele-Afflicted

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    Didn't Gibson copy the ES 339 from an Ibanez?

    Hmmmm .....
     
  6. MattyK-USA

    MattyK-USA Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    If Gibson or any other company has a registered trademark, they are required by law to defend it. If they don't, they lose it. Unless there are trademark suits going back more or less continuously over the years, I do not see how Gibson can win. Maybe I'm missing a nuance of trademark law in this case, but I don't think so.
     
  7. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The elephant in the room:

    This isn’t about protecting Gibson. Or it’s intellectual property. Nobody who wants a Gibson and can afford one is going to buy a substitute. Nobody who can’t afford a Gibson, or thinks the price isn’t worth it, is going to buy one. Their market is locked. Their sales are safe.

    This is all about protecting and boosting Epiphone sales. The crowd that will buy Shcecter, and Ibanez, and Dean, and all of the other cheap knockoff copies are never going to buy a Gibson anyhow, in 99% of cases. But they will buy an Epiphone. In reality these companies and the lines Gibson is going after aren’t Gibson’s competition. They’re Epiphone’s competition.

    Gibson’s theory is surely that if anybody is going to sell cheap knockoffs of their designs, they’re going to keep it in house.
     
  8. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Friend of Leo's

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    I've owned a few SGs which were ok, but nothing special. If Gibson want to spend their time sueing other companies, instead of concentrating on quality control, then that is fine too. The day I buy anything they make has long since subsided, basically I couldn't give a toss whether they sink, or swim.
     
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  9. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I have a 2016 Les Paul Traditional. I have no quality issues. It’s exactly what I wanted and was reasonably priced. The historic reissue LP’s are overpriced in my opinion though.

    I do want a 335 even though I have an perfectly serviceable 90’s Ibanez AS 80 and an AS 50.
     
  10. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think that is probably true of the offshore stuff. But not sure it holds for made in the US market. That consumer might be looking at Gibson, Heritage, Collings etc. And I’m betting the profit margins on the upper tier stuff are pretty good, so protecting that share of the market, even if the numbers sold aren’t that big, still matters.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  11. Blrfl

    Blrfl Tele-Holic

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    No, you've got it nailed. All I'd add is that not only were there not lawsuits, there wasn't even a trademark until relatively recently. I'd be hard-pressed to believe Gibson's legal team isn't fully aware of this, but when the executives want to prove what lousy chess players they are, sometimes you have to go along with it.

    They've come up with a strategy that's all offense and completely ignores their targets' possible defenses. Dean or anyone else could have filed to invalidate Gibson's trademarks years ago but didn't, probably because Gibson left them alone for decades. Gibson had to go stir up the hornets' nest and is going to get stung.
     
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  12. drlucky

    drlucky Tele-Holic

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    Here's a thought: what if Ibanez, Yamaha. Heritage, Collings, Aria, etc. all decide to sign with Dean in their lawsuit re: the 335 trademark? Could be interesting...
     
  13. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    Certainly there is a reason for copyright protection, but the original 27 years (back pre-1800) had it about right. Now at 105 years it is far too long (according to most economists and legal scholars). But Gibson is arguing trademark infringement, not copyright. Trademark rightly can go on forever as it protects the sovereignty of a brand. The courts got it right when they said the name, logo and headstock shape were protected as trademarks. But body shapes are the creative output, not the brand (IMHO).
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
  14. drlucky

    drlucky Tele-Holic

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    Considering Guild has been making 335-ish Starfire IV, V, VI since the mid-sixties (and to my knowledge Gibson never said boo about it) I don't think they will be able to hold onto the trademark...
     
  15. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    Gibson has gone after domestic companies who don't outsource anything so IMO your point only stands if you're just referring to Dean.

    Here is another lawsuit guitar:

    [​IMG]

    Settled out of court, Heritage had to change the horn to a nub.

    Gibson engages in the same against other domestic competition too, Suhr had to make the Aura oblong enough to get permission from Gibson, same goes for various Collings Guitars. More expensive imports like Eastman guitars had to do it too.

    It's just the same old tired abuse of trademark crap, just like the rest of the companies do, "Hey, if we keep suing we won't have to compete!"
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
  16. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    I've stated it before, but, Japan is Gibson's biggest export market.


    Yet, in Japan, they don't allow indefinite trademark over instrument shapes, only temporary license to design exclusivity if you actually come up with something new. Yet, in Japan you can buy guitars with the same shape as the Les Paul, SG, etc, with a different name on the headstock. You know, kind of like how anyone can copy a dreadnought or a Violin or a Saxophone etc etc...the way instruments work is it's about price/craftsmanship/branding...not shapes!


    So what happens...Japan becomes a big maker of musical instruments with their own history of small and mass production. They have a solid, competitive domestic market...AND GIBSON GUITARS ARE AS POPULAR AS EVER THERE!!!
     
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  17. Alamo

    Alamo Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I see new, non trademarked guitar designs on the horizon.
    stock up on popcorn ;):rolleyes: FlyingVreverse.jpg Fireball2.jpg
     
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