Pedal maker Mojo Hand FX has publicly shared a letter it received from Gibson. No, it wasn’t a friendly “How’s it going”, or a holiday postcard . The US guitar giant sent the pedal company a cease and desist letter regarding the branding and marketing of Mojo Hand’s Mister-O phase shifter pedal.
Gibson serves Mojo Hand FX with cease and desist
The letter was shared via Mojo Hand FX’s Instagram page. In the letter, Gibson requests that Mojo FX stops using the Mister-O brand for its phase shifter pedal, claiming that it is “substantially similar” to Gibson’s MAESTRO brand name. The letter goes on to allege that the Mister-O name “unfairly capitalizes on the goodwill and reputation embodied in Gibson’s MAESTRO mark.”
Now, it’s fair to say that the comments section for this post rapidly turned negative towards Gibson. Just to give you an idea of the kinds of responses you can read over there, here are a few typical ones:
Typical move from G*bs*n, destroying goodwill wherever they can. WTF is wrong with these people?
This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen.
It can’t possibly be a Gibson product, pedals don’t break at the headstock.
I know a satirical tv show about Gibson’s legal team would be a hugely niche market, but boy do I have some ideas.
Protecting the Maestro trademark?
Gibson is obviously trying to protect a registered trademark, something companies do all the time. But I think somehow this one seems a bit over the top, especially as the electronics in Mojo Hand FX’s pedal is a new design and not a replica of the Gibson circuit. The crux here is the branding of Mojo Hand’s pedal, rather than what’s inside. Gibson’s letter states:
“The public will and likely has already mistakenly believed that Mojo’s use of Gibson’s MAESTRO mark is authorized, sponsored by, or is somehow affiliated with Gibson.
Gibson’s intellectual property counsel demands “that Mojo cease and immediately desist in using Gibson’s MAESTRO mark and related trade dress and the Mister-O mark on any products, advertisements or in connection with any services.”
Mojo Hand FX Response
Mojo Hand FX had this to say:
“We’d like to apologize to any of our customers that mistakenly somehow felt they were buying a Gibson product when they purchased a Mister-O phase shifter,” stated the pedal builder.
“We are in NO WAY associated with Gibson USA, and never will be. Not one single trace of the original circuit of the Maestro phaser from 50 years ago was copied, we only used our ears and Dave’s programming skills to create our pedal as a homage to the original phaser made by good people back in the day when things were simpler, and the original Gibson we all knew and loved was still building guitars just down the road from us in Kalamazoo…”
I’m no legal expert but to me the font used on the Mister-O isn’t the same as on the original Maestro units. Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Is this a case of an industry giant pushing around a much smaller company, or does Gibson have a valid trademark claim here?