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Dean Guitars V

Dean Guitars V  ·  Source: Dean Guitars

Dean Guitars Metal Wings

Dean Guitars Metal Wings  ·  Source: Dean Guitars

Armadillo Enterprises, the parent company of Dean Guitars and Luna Guitars, has responded to Gibson’s multi-million dollar trademark infringement lawsuit. Dean Guitars CEO Evan Rubinson says that Gibson’s claims “are entirely baseless”. 

Dean Guitars CEO responds to Gibson Lawsuit

A letter sent out to the Armadillo’s dealer network has just surfaced on Reddit. In the letter, CEO and President Evan Rubinson has told his commercial partners that he wants to give “an accurate and complete story about Gibson’s claims, which we believe are entirely baseless, and alleviate any concerns Gibson’s unfortunate tactics may have caused you”.

In the letter he goes on to say  “You may have received a letter from Gibson saying that it decided to ‘pursue actions’ against us in connection with the alleged ‘copying’ of the Flying V, Explorer, and ES-335 guitar shapes”

He then refers to alleged “demands” made by Gibson in relation to Dean Guitar’s V and Z shape guitars.

Gibson V versus Dean V

Gibson V and Dean V

43 year-old iconic American-based guitar company

He describes Dean Guitars as “43-year-old iconic American-based guitar company”. He goes on:

“Dean Guitars has been continuously offering the V- and Z-shaped guitars since at least 1976 – for over the past 40 years. These guitars have been widely seen and promoted for decades, including in popular music videos, on stages with famous artists across the globe, at trade shows, and other prominent industry events … Many other companies have been using these generic shapes for decades… we believe the alleged ‘Flying V’ and ‘Explorer’ shapes are unprotectable and Gibson’s trademark registrations should be invalidated … If Gibson pursues its claims, we will vigorously defend ourselves and seek to cancel Gibson’s alleged trademark registrations.”

ES-335 design

Gibson also has a complaint against Luna’s take on the ES style. Rubinson had this to say:

“Dean Guitars – together with a number of other guitar makers – have already initiated an opposition proceeding before the US Patent and Trademark Office in a collective industry effort to curb Gibson’s attempts to claim exclusive rights to this generic shape … We respect and value the intellectual property rights of others … But we also recognise that some things are just too common and basic for one company to claim as their own property.”

Looks like Dean Guitars aren’t backing down and will protect their company from Gibson’s accusations. Could be an interesting few days in the world of guitars!

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by Jef

8 responses to “Dean Guitars CEO Evan Rubinson: “Gibson’s claims entirely baseless””

  1. Dane says:

    How on earth would the Dean V not be infringing on Gibson’s IP when it’s even called V?

    I think the reaction to Gibson here proves one thing: the barrage of criticism on Gibson in the past few years was never about facts, it was about trashing the company whatever they did.

    By the way:

    Yeah, so if PRS goes after copycats? Yay! If Gibson goes after copycats? Boo!

    • Pelle says:

      I think this is different. In the case of PRS, they went after Counterfeit guitars that were passing off to be PRS Silver Skys, including putting Paul Reed Smith on headstocks and copying Paul Reed Smith’s Bird Inlays, something that is undeniably Paul’s Intellectual Property.

      What Gibson is doing is different. They are putting a trademark claims on body shapes that has been on the market since the 60’s and 70’s and have not been previously enforced at all. As a company, you need to enforce your Intellectual Property, and the court hasn’t been able to rule conclusively that the shape of a guitar can accurately identify it’s source. It’s for that reason Gibson lost their suit against Paul Reed Smith in the 6th circuit court of appeals in 2005. It’s why Fender lost a similar case involving the shape of the Stratocaster as well.

    • Bill says:

      PRS acted right away. Gibson waited anywhere from 40 to 75 years to file a complaint. You can’t do that and keep your copyright. You can’t let people sell guitars like yours for 40 years and then sue them and demand the profits from those guitars. You have to file a suit at the first act of copyright infringement. Gibson has lost all their cases against guitar manufacturers and the only case they won granted them the right to sue if someone uses the Flying V for jewelry, dolls, etc.

  2. What I said about Gibson betting the farm on this on the other post still stands-this is more than an open-and-shut case legally and could very well backfire.

    • Tom D. says:

      Agreed. Every claim that the court rejects is an open invitation to other guitar brands to start integrating this into their guitar design.
      If you read how the “open book headstock design” was already in use on mandolins in the 1700’s – 1800’s, chances are that the ‘unique’ claim on that design by Gibson will be rejected. Hence, every guitar builer could make guitars with an “open book headstock design”. This would be a serious backfiring…
      If I was Dean, I’d started building my guitars to the designs and specs of the rejected claims O:-)

      • Actually, the “open book headstock” trademark may well be one of the only trademarks that Gibson is left with after this all plays out as they didn’t wait 40+ years to trademark it and have many years of history of enforcing their IP on it.

  3. Bill says:

    Gibson lost its case in the EU over the Flying V. The court said that since 1958, lot’s of guitar companies have made similar guitars without being sued. You can’t wait 50 years to enforce your copyright. So Gibson lost their copyright for V-shaped guitars in Europe and I’m sure they will lose on every other case where they decided not to try to take anyone to court for 40 to 60 years. All these lawsuits are a waste of money and proof that the old Gibson is dead and the new Gibson is a function of Wall St and just wants money.

  4. Guitarblues says:

    This case has nothing to do with copyrights. Gibson sued on trademarks. If I remember right, Dean did not make any electric guitars from the mid 80s until Elliott Rubinson bought the brand in 1997. Last time I checked, 1997 to 2019 is 22 years, not 40 to 75.

    Not sure how you can honestly say that you respect and value the intellectual property rights of others while at the same time copying others intellectual property. Although not sure how much stock you can put in a statement by Evan Rubinson.

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