PRS v. Gibson

all done.


Tuesday, June 6, 2006

U.S. Supreme Court passes on Gibson Guitar case
By JOHN GEROME Associated Press Writer

(AP) - NASHVILLE, Tennessee-The U.S. Supreme Court has decided the beat should go on, letting stand a lower court ruling on a trademark dispute between Gibson Guitar Corp. and a Maryland guitar maker.

The ruling on Monday allows for the manufacturing of a guitar very similar to the storied Les Paul model.

The court declined to hear objections to a 2005 federal appeals court ruling that said Paul Reed Smith Guitars of Stevensville, Maryland, did not infringe on the trademarked design of Gibson’s popular Les Paul model.

“Did you hear the sigh of relief? There is relief in finality,” said William Coston, a Washington, D.C., attorney who represented Paul Reed Smith Guitars.

Nashville-based Gibson had objected to Paul Reed Smith’s Singlecut line of guitars, saying the models were too similar to the Les Paul and created confusion in the marketplace.

A district court judge agreed with Gibson in 2004 and issued a permanent injunction preventing Paul Reed Smith from making and selling the guitars.

But last September the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s order and allowed the company to resume manufacturing, selling and distributing its Singlecut guitars.

The appeals court said the lower court "confused trademark law with trade-dress law … This affected the remainder of the district court’s reasoning and prevented proper analysis of the parties’ claims."

The solid body, single-cutaway Les Paul electric guitar was unveiled in 1952 and has been a favorite of rock ‘n’ roll and blues artists ever since. For decades other manufacturers have offered instruments that have veered close to being outright copies.

The Les Paul was not manufactured by Gibson during most of the 1960s, and the company did not apply for trademark registration until 1987. By then, other manufacturers were using the shape that defined the Les Paul look.

Paul Reed Smith introduced its Singlecut guitar in 2000, a model it says it created to satisfy dealers who loved the Les Paul but did not like Gibson.

Coston said the guitars are popular and sales have been brisk since production resumed last fall.

He also said that except for some further proceedings related to court costs and attorney fees, the trademark case is all but over.

An attorney for Gibson Guitar Corp. did not return a phone message Monday.

I saw that posted on Harmony-Central and while I’m not so concerned about the lawsuit, it does make me want to buy a new guitar. The idea of Les Paul with a whammy and PRS quality is very intriguing.

mmm…PRS guitar…mmm…

I dunno, I would really like a Heritage, actually.

I have had the chance to play a few PRS guitars and quite a few Gibbys at various stores over in the Atlanta area, Nashville and Birmingham. The ONE thing that impressed me most is the PRS consistency. Specially the higher end “Customs”. All of 'em virtually perfect right off the rack. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Gibson. Gibson must have some quality control issues with their setup and finishing department. IF I were to throw down 2K plus for an axe, it better be stunningly perfect. I can’t see dropping that kind of coin for a geetar anytime soon though…


EDIT: I have not had the pleasure of trying a Heritage guitar but all accounts I have heard/read say they are great instruments.

The heritage guitars are not only great, they can be had at great prices. One of the guys I play with has a couple, and they just rock.

Yeah, if Gibson would wake up and make a consistantly good product at reasonable prices, they would have no worries. With guys like Heritage, PRS, and Hamer out there, they need to clean up their act. Gibson reminds me of Fender during the CBS days. Fenders then and Fenders now are very different, thank goodness. We were one of the larger Gibson dealers in the state (back in my retail days) so I have seen them all. We once got a black Beauty LP in that was myteriously lighter than the others. We cracked open the back and guess what… some genius at the factory routed the electronics chamber too deep and filled it with a slice of cheap ply wood so the knobs would not stick out too far. This was a $4000 guitar and not marked as a factory second or B stock. Gimmie a break. Not to mention the hit and miss binding, fret, and finishing jobs. Some finishes were great, others looked like a kid’s shop project with a spray can of poly. However, it seems their Montana factory can make a resonably decent product. Too bad I think their acoustics sound like tubby mud.