Gibson CEO James ‘JC’ Curleigh has been interviewed by Jesse Knutson on Nashville’s News Channel 5 website and during the talk he announced a new program to work with boutique guitar builders.
Gibson Authorised Partnership Program
The interview, which has been uploaded to the Gibson site, starts off by talking about that infamous Play Authentic video with Mark Agnesi. The one where he warned builders to not use Gibson’s copyrighted designs and trademarks.
“Tone and timing of that video, clearly, lessons to be learned, but guess what: we’re taking down hundreds of websites, thousands of guitars we’re intercepting that are knockoffs, so it served a purpose.” James ‘JC’ Curleigh, president and CEO of Gibson
The interview then goes on to state that Gibson is planning to initially collaborate with three to four boutique guitar builders. Entering into agreements where the boutique builders acknowledge that they’re using Gibson’s trademarked body shapes.
Royalties and Licences
Potentially these builders may only be able to build a certain amount of those guitar shapes and will have to pay a royalty or license for the privilege. Curleigh goes on to say that Gibson would support the boutique builders with marketing. And that it is not meant to be a revenue generator for Gibson. But a way to allow them to continue using Gibson shapes in a mutually-agreed upon way.
“We have to preserve and protect (our trademarks), but I think we can do it in a way that’s not confrontational, it’s more collaborative.
“There’s a spectrum that occurs. And the spectrum can be wide, but it can also be definitive or grey depending on how you look at it, and the definitive part is the known counterfeit/knockoffs. They truly, they see a brand that’s iconic, they see it has momentum, and they want to take – just frankly – illegitimate leverage on that momentum through counterfeit product, and you have to hit that hard, you have to stop it fast, or it gets out of control, and quite frankly, it damages your brand. But not just your brand and your business, it puts guitars out there that confuse guitarists, thinking they bought a real Gibson, so that’s this spectrum here, you really have to be tough on that.”
“While all this sort of noise was going on a month ago – about, ‘oh, Gibson goes legal,’ I mean, I gotta tell ya. I put the noise cancellation headphones on and I said: ‘We’re gonna pivot to collaboration.’ So literally, in the last 4 weeks, we’ve been starting this not just conversation, we’ve signed agreements with these collaboration partners, and then we’re like, ‘what’s next?’ Literally, I have an email from one of them saying, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we put a stamp with both of our names or something that authorizes it’s a Gibson authorization partner?’ And we’re like, ‘yeah!’ So it’s not fully thought out, but boy, it’s got good intentions behind it.”- JC Curleigh
Summer NAMM 2019
Gibson is expected to make the official announcement about the Gibson Authorized Partnership Program this Wednesday before Summer NAMM.
You can read the full interview via the link below and hear what JC has in the pipeline for Gibson and the new program. After the last few weeks and the Dean Guitars court cases that included Gibson losing the Flying V body shape trademark in EU Courts, it looks like 2019 is a year that could make or break Gibson’s reputation in the guitar industry.
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