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Dean Guitars Wins Retrial in Trademark Dispute with Gibson

Dean Guitars Wins Retrial in Trademark Dispute with Gibson
Dean Guitars wins a retrial against Gibson's trademark claims on iconic guitar shapes. Will the broader evidence tip the scales? Find out what this means for the future of guitar design.

Dean Guitars (owned by Armadillo Enterprises) has been locked in a legal battle with guitar giant Gibson over using specific guitar body shapes and headstock designs. In a significant development, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a previous ruling and granted Dean a retrial.

Dean Guitars Wins Retrial in Trademark Dispute with Gibson

Gibson claims that Dean’s use of the V-shaped and Z-shaped guitars and the Dovewing headstock infringes on its trademarks. These are iconic designs strongly associated with Gibson guitars.

Dean Guitars Wins Retrial

Why did Dean lose the first round?

In the initial trial, the Texas District Court limited the evidence Dean could present to prove that these shapes had become generic in the eyes of consumers.

Armadillo argued that decades of use by other guitar companies had diluted the distinctiveness of the shapes. However, the court restricted them from using evidence only after 1992.

Dean Guitars Wins Retrial
V Shape

What changed with the appeal?

The 5th Circuit Court disagreed with this limitation. They ruled that Dean should be allowed to present evidence from before 1992, including the history of other guitar brands using similar shapes. This broader range of evidence could strengthen Dean’s case in the retrial.

Dean Guitars Wins Retrial
Dovewing headstock

What does this mean for the future?

The retrial is a significant victory for Dean Guitars. However, the 2022 injunction preventing them from using the disputed shapes remains in place for now.

What are both sides saying?

  • Dean Guitars is celebrating this as a chance to “reinforce fair competition within the guitar industry.” They believe the broader evidence will vindicate their long-standing use of these designs.
  • Gibson remains confident and plans to appeal the decision. They view their iconic shapes as crucial to their legacy and intend to defend their trademarks at the retrial vigorously.

Dean Statement

Looking for more information?

The documents related to the appeal can be found using the court of appeals docket number 22-40587.

More Information

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