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Heritage Owners Club

Gibson/Heritage lawsuit revisited


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Posted (edited)

My understanding - Its basically Gibson's frivolous trademark lawsuit against Heritage backfiring on them. 

Since the trademark lawsuit didn't hold water, it opens them up to an anti-trust claim. Essentially stating that their (Gibsons) lawsuits only true intent was to create a monopoly/anti-competition; and harmed consumers. 

I'm not a lawyer though, so someone more versed in legalese please chime in to correct if I'm wrong or missing some important details. 

Edited by kbp810
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Also my understanding is Gibson cancelled their contract with SweeLee which is under the same umbrella of Ming’s companies. I’m sure that was a big hit on sales. 

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Heritage seems to be in the right, from what I can see. They had a prior agreement with Gibson for 20+ years with no problems.

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I was wondering if this was going to resurface, since Gibson "technically" won their lawsuit against Dean.    On the other hand,  the award was only something like $4000 instead of $7 million they asked for.   The critical part was that their trademarks appear to have been upheld, even though they were filed about 40 years after the fact.

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1 hour ago, TalismanRich said:

I was wondering if this was going to resurface, since Gibson "technically" won their lawsuit against Dean.    On the other hand,  the award was only something like $4000 instead of $7 million they asked for.   The critical part was that their trademarks appear to have been upheld, even though they were filed about 40 years after the fact.

Which makes me think that Gibson is throwing a lot of crap at the wall to see what sticks. 

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Obviously Gibson knows that Heritage is taking a chunk of business away because of their quality products.  Good for Heritage!

There is no denying that Heritage guitars are based on the forerunning Gibsons.  Heritage in many ways is more classic Gibson than Nashville.

I would have been more sympathetic to Gibson if they were firm on this almost 40 years ago.  Now there are a dozen companies making Les Pauls and 335s, each slightly different.  Heritage is made in the sacred plant though and is competitively priced.

Gibson thought in the 1980s that Heritage was a pipe dream.  Against the odds Heritage did well.

I'm waiting for my old H-150s and H-157s to be worth $100K.  Maybe in 2023!

As far as the legalities, I don't fault Gibson.  They have a retained, if not full time, legal team that has to keep busy.  Their days are likely filled with such suits, most of them not ever reaching trial.

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I'm a lawyer...retired. This is a pretty complicated litigation but in my opinion this is what is happening based upon my review of Judge Jarbou's recent opinion; in 1991 H and G entered into a confidential settlement agreement. Between 2015-2020 G sent H some "cease and desist" letters claiming that H was in violation of the 1991 agreement. H and G apparently could not agree on the disposition of the issues raised in the letters so H filed a complaint in federal court (a declaratory judgment action) seeking the court's judgement on whether or not it violated the 1991 agreement. In 2021 the Court allowed H to file a second amended complaint adding four claims against G basically accusing G of trying to establish a monopoly.  In response G filed a partial Motion to Dismiss the four additional claims in H's Second Amended Complaint.  The Court's recent opinion is a decision on G's Motion To Dismiss. It is only an opinion on the Motion To Dismiss and not the whole case. The Judge is only deciding if H's complaint includes sufficient factual allegations to proceed. The Judge is not determining the truth of the allegations just if they are sufficient. The Judge agreed with H and denied G's Motion to dismiss H Second Amended Complaint. The Judge decided that H's factual allegations were sufficient. Not that they are true just that they are sufficient. Of note is that portions of the 1991 agreement are recited in the Court's opinion. I'm not sure that the terms of the agreement have every been public before. The Judge rejects G's arguments and interpretation of the 1991 settlement agreement and agrees that H's positions are possible.  These are very technical legal analyses that bore most people. Bottom line the case is not over! In fact it is really just starting. H and G will be allowed to proceed with discovery (depositions and document requests etc.) and possibly a trial. Typically the parties will also explore settlement options.   

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