Update (30 July): Added Gibson’s official statement on the judgement.
A final judgement from the presiding judge in the Gibson vs Dean case has ordered Dean’s parent company Armadillo to cease production and marketing of the Luna Athena 501, the Dean Gran Sport, the Dean V, the Dean Z and any guitars using or advertised with the word “Hummingbird”. The order follows a jury verdict that found Dean Guitars liable for both counterfeiting and trademark infringement of a number of Gibson’s designs, a
This final judgement seems to be in contrast to what Dean’s outgoing CEO and President Evan Rubinson expected to happen following the ruling. We spoke to him shortly after the jury verdict arrived, and he stated: “We have no plans to drop the Dean V and Z guitars, nor the Dean Evo headstock design, as the jury found no trademark liability on any of those.”
Rubinson also told us that “the case is by no means over”, and “Gibson may potentially appeal the verdict, despite their touted victory.” While this is still technically possible, it’s almost certain that Gibson will not appeal – the final judgement is ultimately in Gibson’s favour. Not only does it order Armadillo to cease production and advertisement of some of its most popular guitars, it also rules that all legal costs of the case fall on Armadillo and its investment partner Concordia. Gibson is requesting legal costs totalling $335,760.61.
Additionally, Gibson has now released an official statement on the ruling. “Gibson is once again very pleased with the outcome after years of simply trying to protect their brand and business through well recognized intellectual property rights, rights that have been Gibson’s for decades,” it reads.
“Gibson’s guitar shapes are iconic and now are firmly protected for the past, present, and future. From a broader perspective, this court decision is also a win for Gibson fans, Artists, dealers, and related partners. Not to mention for all of the iconic American brands that have invested in meaningful innovation and continued protection, only to see it diluted with unauthorised and often illegitimate knock-offs. Gibson can now focus attention on continuing to leverage its iconic past, and invest in future innovation, with confidence.”
The jury verdict found that the damages suffered by Gibson as a direct result of the infringement were minimal – totalling only $4,000, which Armadillo and Concordia must now pay Gibson within 30 days. However, the six-figure sum of legal fees that they are now required to pay massively changes what the financial impact of this case could be on Armadillo.
Despite the ruling being entitled a “final judgement,” it could still be appealed by Armadillo. Guitar.com has reached out to the brand for comment.
The judgement comes at a turbulent time for Armadillo, as CEO and President Evan Rubinson has departed the company, and is now facing a lawsuit that alleges he embezzled $420,000 from his late father’s company Thoroughbred Music Inc. He has denied the allegations completely.