Gibson & Warwick both score victories in trademark battle
The legal dispute between Gibson and Warwick over the former’s body shape trademarks sprung back to life today, with Warwick claiming victory in German court regarding the Wolf Hoffmann signature model, while Guitar.com has learned that Gibson has scored a series of victories in the EU court of appeal regarding its Les Paul, Flying V and ES trademarks.
Gibson first took out an injunction against Warwick over the Framus Wolf Hoffman signature model back in 2014, claiming that the design of the guitar infringed on its Flying V trademarks, and was successful in the first two preliminary injunction hearings, as well as the first main proceedings.
Warwick then took the case to the Hamburg Higher Regional Court, which ruled in the brand’s favour that the guitar did not infringe Gibson’s trademarks, despite similarities in design. Reasons for this ruling included that potential buyers could not be regarded as ‘laymen’ and therefore understood the differences between the two guitars, and also noted the technical and physical differences between the two designs.
Despite agreeing that there were, “indisputable similarities in the shape of the body and headstock” between the guitars, the court ruled that there were “discernible and therefore not only insignificant deviations from the complaint pattern for the overall impression”.
Despite the setback in the Hoffman case, however, Guitar.com has learned that Gibson has scored a number of recent successes protecting its trademarks against Warwick with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
Two of the 3D trademarks Warwick unsuccessfully attempted to challengeWarwick had appealed against Gibson’s filing of 3D trademarks for the Les Paul, SG, Flying V and ES shapes (initially submitted in 2011), and sought to have them overturned in the same way that it had successfully argued in case of the non-3D shapes of the Thunderbird/Firebird and Flying V in February 2020 and June 2019 respectively.
However, in this instance, the EUIPO ruled that because the 3D trademarks in question clearly sported the manufacturer’s logo in each instance, Warwick’s arguments were “insufficient to question the distinctiveness” of the trademark and in fact that the marks were “inherently distinctive” as a result of the presence of the Gibson and Epiphone logos on each mark.
Warwick was ordered to pay €1,000 costs for each of the unsuccessful appeals, while Gibson now has to decide whether it will appeal the Hamburg Higher Regional Court ruling in the Wolf Hoffman case at the Supreme Court.
Guitar.com has reached out to both Warwick and Gibson for comment regarding these cases.
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