“It’s time to shift from confrontation to collaboration”: Gibson breaks silence on lawsuits

Gibson releases statement acknowledging mistakes, hoping for a “constructive resolution” to the Dean case, and plans for “creative collaboration agreements” with boutique builders.

After a fortnight of negative headlines about its legal entanglements, Gibson has released a statement, acknowledging that the company has “clear lessons to be learned”, and also deals with the high-profile counterfeit lawsuit against Dean Guitars for the first time.

Regarding the last month’s filing against Dean Guitars owner Armadillo Enterprises, as well as the recent EU case regarding the Flying V body shape, Gibson emphasises that these are the result of, “several years of legal action initiated well before the new leadership arrived.”

Dealing specifically with the Dean suit, the statement highlights that the legal dynamic between the two companies existed before the new leadership team took charge, and assert that it has, “made several attempts to communicate with them directly to avoid a prolonged legal battle,” in the hope of finding a “constructive resolution that could be beneficial to both sides.”

It goes on to claim that since the new leadership team took over in late 2018, the company’s legal actions have primarily been focussed on intentionally counterfeit guitars produced by what Gibson describes as, “Rogue overseas players in the market”, and notes that they’ve dealt with over 4,500 of these knock-off guitars since November 2018.

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However, the statement acknowledges that the way they’ve dealt with other guitar companies has not always been well-received, admitting that “there are clear lessons to be learned around tone and legal explanations.”

As a result, Gibson is promising a change of focus that will see the company, “pivot from less legal leverage to more industry collaboration, with appropriate levels of awareness.” And promises to work on, “finding more constructive solutions to managing brand protection in the industry.”

Most interestingly, Gibson claims that the company has already entered into “creative collaboration agreements with key boutique guitar makers and other related industry parties” – though it doesn’t give any details at this time.

Gibson CMO Cesar Gueikian and CEO JC Curleigh
Gibson CMO Cesar Gueikian and CEO JC Curleigh at the Nashville preview event for the company’s 2019 electrics. All images: Mitch Conrad for Gibson

The final word is given to Gibson CEO JC Curleigh, who has spoken publicly for the first time since the now-notorious ‘Play Authentic’ video kicked off the current controversy.

“I am proud of the progress we have made with our attention to quality, with the launch of the new collections, and with our renewed engagement to our Gibson authorised dealer base,” says Curleigh.

“At the same time, we acknowledge there are still legacy challenges to solve going forward, especially around brand protection and market solutions. It is time to make the modern-day shift from confrontation towards collaboration, whilst still protecting our brands, and we are committed to making this happen starting now”.

Read the full statement from Gibson here.

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