Gibson issues cease and desist to Kiesel Guitars – Déjà vu?
Gibson’s lawyers have recently sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to Kiesel Guitars, demanding the company stop manufacturing a couple of its models. However, Kiesel isn’t backing down and has released a video telling Gibson exactly what it thinks of the order.
Lawyers vs Luthiers
Never a dull moment with Gibson! It seems that the company’s litigation machine has been firing on all cylinders, suing anyone who makes a model that might remotely resemble a Gibson shape. After losing its recent cases in the EU over the Flying V and Firebird shapes, it now looks like the guitar giant is back to focusing on smaller builders in the US.
Kiesel’s Ultra-V vs Gibson’s Flying V
Kiesel Guitars is the latest victim of Gibson’s ‘cease-and-desist’ letters. Vice president Jeff Kiesel published a response video on Kiesel Guitars’ Instagram channel saying Gibson demanded he stop production of the Kiesel Ultra-V model.
“It’s not a battle they’re going to win, and we’re not gonna back down,” – Jeff Kiesel
Kiesel points out several reasons he thinks Gibson doesn’t have a case:
“I named the Ultra V, so I think it was about ’86 when it came out, I was seven years old, so it’s a really special model to me.
“So, to have those bozos try to tell us we can’t make it any more when it looks literally nothing like it (Gibson’s Flying V)… I mean, come on guys, look at the pointed body, look at the bevel on it: does that look anything like their V?”
“Their trademark was fulfilled in 1995; our model came out [under the Carvin name] in 1986.”- Jeff Kiesel
If this news sounds familiar to you, it’s because Gibson tried doing the same to Dean Guitars last year, over Dean’s V-style guitar. Personally, I think Gibson is fighting a losing battle here. Unfortunately, it waited far too long to protect its V-style guitars and now it’s just too late.
CS6 California Single
Kiesel later spoke to The Guitologist YouTube channel, where he revealed that Gibson also issued a ‘cease and desist’ over the company’s CS6 California Single single-cutaway model.
This model was launched in 2006, following the landmark ruling in 2005 of the famous PRS vs Gibson case, which saw a victory for PRS and its Singlecut guitar design. By Jeff Kiesel’s own admission, the CS6 California Single has more in common with PRS than Gibson. It’s unclear why Gibson would want to pursue a case so similar to one it has already lost in the past.
Kiesel Guitars CS6 California Single
Is Gibson a bully?
What do you think? Is Gibson just bullying other builders, or simply protecting its heritage?
- Kiesel Guitars' Ultra V: Kiesel Guitars
- Kiesel Guitars CS6 California Single: Kiesel Guitars
I don’t know about Europe, but here in the Colonies the PRS lawsuit generated a massive amount of ill-will towards Gibson that reverberates to this day and this new threat against Kiesel either shows that the new management at Gibson is either unable to “learn from the past” or is so arrogant and disconnected from the market that they really don’t care how they are perceived. And for the record, long ago in the shrouded past, I sold Gibson guitars for almost 25 years of my life and can state that Gibson Kalamazoo even under Norlin never acted crazy like this. Even Henry for the first 10 years he ran Gibson was more restrained and less “lawsuit crazy” than these mooks. And the whole obsession of filing “retroactive” trademarks years after the fact and years after the designs in question have become generic flies the the face of “prior use” and demonstrates more than anything else that the US trademark laws or the interpretation of such by the legal system here in the US need(s) serious revision. That is my “polite” response. My less “polite” (and that of many others here in the States that have heard about this) is unprintable here.
Yes, you are right. These new guys are clowns and I doubt they will last very long or make the impact that they think they are making. The V and Explorer style guitars, while they look cool, are sort of a niche style. Most buyers who have multiple guitars probably won’t have one in their collection. Even guys who may have upwards of 20 guitars might only have 1 V or Explorer. These are generalizations but I doubt they are the bread and butter models for most builders.
The all out assault is unusual for what would probably be diminished returns. I don’t know if these new guys have more of a problem with use of the “V” name or the actual V shape? Either way it’s like 60 years too late. Just the fact that Carvin had the trademark almost a decade before Gibson should be enough to get it thrown out, but that is if common sense comes into play.
These Gibson bros are still focused on the past. They talked a big game coming in but not a whole lot has changed with their lineup. Just brand videos, corporate threats and lawsuits. Nice job fellas.
New Gibson management is only interested in making videos with celebrities and lawsuits. They promised us they would make Gibson great again, but they’ve done nothing of the sort. Folks are returning the new instruments that they were promised would fix Gibson’s bumpy history because of really bad quality control issues. This new management has got to do. Get guitar people in their leadership, not these old has-beens with little to no knowledge of the guitar market. Shame.
Martin should issue a C&D to Gibson for the dreadnought shape – but no-one else. You know, just for the LOLZ.
Hey Gibson, learn the lesson Fender learned many years ago. Let go, admit you can’t stop other companies building clones, and concentrate on producing decent guitars at a price directly relative to quality.
Seriously. It’s funny how they don’t go after Jackson, er I mean Fender, for their V and Rhoads models. They know they would get punched in the face so they are going after companies they think they can steamroll in court.
Yeah, that pretty much sums up this whole fiasco.
Blues lawyers indeed…