Heritage Guitars Files Defensive Suit to Combat IP Threats from Gibson

They say playing the guitar is a great way to relieve stress. But there is nothing but stress between two guitar makers, Heritage Guitar Inc. and Gibson Brands Inc., which culminated in a defensive lawsuit this week in Michigan.  

The Kalamazoo-based Heritage Guitar was formed in 1985 by former Gibson employees after Gibson closed its historic factory at 225 Parsons St. in Kalamazoo and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Heritage alleges in its complaint that Gibson has explicitly threatened to sue Heritage “presumably because of a prior unfavorable trademark decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.”

“Heritage brings this action to resolve the cloud of fear, uncertainty and doubt that Gibson and (its parent company) KKR (Kolberg, Kravis & Roberts) seek to cast over Heritage’s business by these ill-conceived threats,” the complaint states.

The companies, according to a statement issued on Heritage’s Instagram page have an “undeniably intertwined” history, that got off to a rocky start when Heritage was formed at the former Gibson site.

Heritage said their complaint was filed “in response to an ongoing and excessive campaign of harassment by the Gibson team since it came under new ownership” specifically over the look and design of more than a half dozen single-cut and double-cut guitars.

“There is no likelihood of confusion, mistake or deception as to the affiliation, connection, or association of Gibson with Heritage or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of the parties’ respective products.

Gibson issued a formal statement in response to the suit, stating that it is not, in fact suing Heritage Guitars, and that it “is disappointed that Heritage and its owners felt it necessary to file a complaint against Gibson.”

So, a court in Michigan will have to sort through a complicated and intertwined history to determine who wins on this one. Just like guitars and music, disputes are everywhere.  And when those nasty things get LEGAL including contract issues, landlord/tenant matters, nuisance ADA claims and even collections, call in the good guy business litigator, Dean Sperling who will work to resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind!

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