by Jef | Approximate reading time: 1 Minute
Gibson Custom Shop Eric Clapton 1964 Firebird I

Gibson Custom Shop Eric Clapton 1964 Firebird I  ·  Source: Gibson


Gibson has lost its Firebird guitar body shape trademark in the EU. According to, the European Union Intellectual Property Office, or EUIPO, stated in its decision that it “does not consider this to be significantly different from the normal style of electric guitars”. Ouch.


In explaining its decision, the EU’s IP watchdog stated that, “Guitar body shapes may perhaps function as trademarks for a tiny club of expert and discerning guitarists, but not for the average amateur, who is the relevant public in assessing distinctive character in this case.” That means that even though guitarists may be able to identify a guitar’s outline, it’s more relevant whether a non-guitar player can. So this shape isn’t distinctive enough to be trademarked because Joe Bloggs can’t tell the difference between a Firebird and any other guitar body shape.

Gibson Firebird 2017

Gibson Firebird Traditional · Source:

Too little, too late?

Another factor in the decision was that Gibson filed for the trademark decades after the guitar was introduced. Similar grounds were cited by the court in rejecting Gibson’s arguments in a case centred on the Flying V shape back in June earlier this year (read the text of that decision here).

The application to request the cancellation of both the Firebird and Flying V trademarks came from Warwick and Framus guitars founder and owner, Hans-Peter Wilfer. Now he’s won against Gibson twice. The decision by the Cancellation Division of the EU Intellectual Property Office was handed down on 11 October 2019. The ruling does not affect trademarks held in other regions or countries, like the USA.

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Gibson Custom Shop Eric Clapton 1964 Firebird I

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4 responses to “Gibson loses Firebird guitar body shape trademark in the EU”

    Dane says:

    Quite ironically, Mr Wilfer seems to be hated in a few corners of the German market because of some fabricated claims about alleged bad working conditions at Framus. In hindsight, maybe those allegations were seeded by Gibson water carriers in the first place.

    From personal experience, I have found Mr Wilfer a very helpful person who even goes to great lengths to handle very minor matters personally. Kudos for picking up the fight against a Goliath, and winning.

    earwaxpaper says:

    Authentically amusing!

    Robert says:

    Gibson just needs to stop with the lawsuits and focus that energy on growing the industry as a whole. Stop acting the big bully and start acting like a big brother!!

      Jef says:

      Yeah, but they might make some extra money and win over the hearts of their true ‘diehard’ fans. Or not….

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