Man, I love Gibson guitars! I own and play 30+ original Gibsons, all modern or vintage instruments and I never had any complaint about quality, playability or whatsoever. Sure they don’t come cheap but I enjoy the tone, the look and the feel of a real Gibson guitar. I am a fan of the brand and I got a LP Custom headstock tattooed on my shoulder. Never felt to go into discussion with the numerous Gibson Bashers in cyberspace.
There is nothing wrong with a company trying to protect its intellectual property, they have every right to protect their legacy and take action towards counterfeiting and unfair competition. Counterfeit guitars flooding the market can even decrease the value of my authentic collection.
Today I came across the Gibson “Play Authentic” video featuring Gibson’s Director of Brand Experience Mark Agnesi. (see the video below) The clip carried out a warning to rival brands that produce guitars with body shapes and designs similar to Gibson models. “You have been warned, we’re here to protect our iconic legacy!” Pretty strong words and from a marketing point of view maybe not the best decision in re-branding the Gibson company. The public reaction was pretty hefty and the video was pulled off of Youtube. Sending out a cringe is not a good move when you are in an attempt to revive your company. The video may be gone but the first trademark violation lawsuits are filed against Dean, Schecter and Luna Guitars. More to be followed soon.
The Gibson and Fender models are being copied for almost fifty years now. We had the Japanese lawsuit guitars in the seventies. The headstock shape and the logo are both considered as a trademark but there are already a number of court cases that decided things like an SG, LP or Strat shape are not enforceable trademarks. Why decide to claim your “authenticity” when your competitors have been doing “variations” for more than 5 decades?
I don’t see the point in making money by filing lawsuits against competitors? Isn’t that old-style management from the HJ-era? On the other hand Gibson itself used to copy other manufacturers designs. In the eighties Gibson issued the Gibson US-1, a Superstrat. In 2009 the Gibson Guitar Company did a short run of the low-end Jimi Hendrix guitar, a Stratocaster with a slightly different headstock. Slash, the Gibson brand ambassador himself used a luthier LP copy when playing Guns’n Roses! What about the issues with the German company that developed those dreaded Robotuners? And in my opinion the 2019 Gibson EB Bass looks more like an Ibanez or Yamaha…
Gibson should take action towards the Chinese counterfeit guitars, they steal their logo and trademark. But companies like Schecter make good quality instruments based on a traditional design. Gibson should be flattered by that!