Gibson has just lost their Flying V trademark case in EU court. The court has stated that the Flying V body shape has “no demonstration of distinctive character”.
Flying V trademark case blow
Dean Guitars’ legal team will surely be watching this outcome and using it in their defence against Gibson, over the alleged copyright infringement case that they are now embroiled in with Gibson.
Originally Gibson had filed for a trademark claim for the guitar back in 16 June 2010, when Gibson filed a patent application for the Flying V shape with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. Then on October 2014 Hans-Peter Wilfer, the owner of Warwick and Framus went ahead and challenged the registration.
The Second Chamber of the EU General Court then stated “there has been no demonstration of distinctive character acquired,” by the Flying V and “that when the application for registration of the challenged mark was filed, the V-shape did not depart significantly from the norms and customs of the sector.”
In 2016, this case was heard by the EUIPO’s Cancellation Division, and Wilfer’s complaint was upheld. Gibson appealed, but then lost in 2018. So decided to appeal to the EU General Court and it has been dismissed again by a panel of three judges.
They stated that the Flying V guitar “was very original when it was released on the market in 1958, it cannot however deny the evolution of the market during the following 50 years, which was henceforward characterised by a wide variety of available shapes.”
“The presence on the market of a significant number of shapes encountered by consumers makes it unlikely that they will regard a particular shape as belonging to a specific manufacturer rather than being just one of the variety of shapes characterising the market.”
Essentially, to wrap this whole debacle up in one sentence for you, Gibson waited too long to file for the Flying V shape as a trademark.
They do still hold patents for other aspects of the Flying V and also the Flying V body shape in other non guitar areas like clothing or jewellery.
- Gibson Flying V: Heritage Auctions/Gibson