Gibson issues formal response to Heritage lawsuit

The guitar giant issues a statement of its own following the lawsuit filed against them by the US builder.

Scott Holiday's 1999 Gibson Custom Firebird VII aka ‘Bluebird’

Image: Eleanor Jane

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Gibson Brands has released a formal statement in response to the lawsuit filed against the company in the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan by Heritage Guitar Inc, and the strongly-worded Instagram post that Heritage put out a day later.

The statement is presented in full below:

“Gibson is disappointed that Heritage and its owners felt it necessary to file a complaint against Gibson. Gibson is not suing Heritage Guitar, which is co-owned by BandLab (a Singapore based company who owns Guitar.com and Guitar Magazine – and is also the current Distributor for Gibson Brands in South East Asia).

“For the past 126 years, Gibson has played a leading role in designing, building, selling and supporting artists with their guitars. When Gibson made the decision to move production from Kalamazoo to Nashville in the mid-eighties, a small group decided to remain in Kalamazoo to start their own brand, Heritage Guitars, making direct copies of Gibson. At the time, Gibson made Heritage aware that they could not just copy Gibson guitars and a confidential agreement was formed in 1991. For several years, the two companies honored the contract and co-existed.

“In 2016, Heritage Guitars was acquired by a real estate development group. In 2017, BandLab acquired a majority stake in Heritage Guitars that created a partnership consisting of a Singapore based conglomerate (run by the son of a billionaire) and the Chicago based real-estate group. In 2019, Heritage initiated conversations with Gibson centered around leveraging Gibson’s iconic site for broader commercial purposes, including the plans to convert the (Parsons Street, Kalamazoo) factory into a hotel. A meeting was held, but no further action was taken.

“Recently, Heritage launched some new guitars that clearly did not respect, nor adhere to, the original contract. In fact, several customers had inquired if they were actually Gibson Guitars. Heritage Guitars also took the liberty of using language on their website that was misleading and misrepresenting, which added to the confusion.

“As a result, Gibson contacted Heritage to remind them of the conditions of the original contract, with the intention of constructive resolution and suggestions to cure the breach(s). To be clear, Gibson has not sued Heritage and has been proactive towards a solution. However, Gibson will not accept that Heritage Guitars, owned by BandLab, in partnership with real estate developers, can re-write Gibson’s history or blatantly breach a good faith contract.

“Gibson continues to focus on their successful resurgence, including the broad levels of support from guitar dealers, artists, and partners.”

Guitar.com has reached out to Heritage Guitar Inc for comment on Gibson’s statement – this is a developing story and will be updated when new information becomes available.

[Editor’s note: Heritage Guitars has a partnership with BandLab Technologies, the parent company of Guitar.com.]

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