Trademark law in Pennsylvania

The concept of legally protecting intellectual property is often thought of as catchphrases, logos and other words that are associated with a certain brand. However, one guitar manufacturer is arguing that the shape of one part of its products should be trademarked as well.

Gibson has been one of the main players in the field of musical instruments in the United States since the early 1920s. Some of the biggest bands and solo artists in the history of music have achieved fame playing a Gibson. In addition to their unique sound, Gibson guitars also have a very distinctive look. That look, Gibson is currently arguing, includes the headstock portion of the guitar.

Collings, another manufacturer of guitars and stringed instruments, filed for a trademark on the shape of the headstocks on its guitars, which Gibson says are entirely too similar to its own. Collings’ filing became open to opposition in February of 2020, and Gibson quickly filed the paperwork to protect the design that the company says it made famous.

Gibson’s suit cites that fact that its headstocks have been used in American commerce since 1922 and the fear that Collings’ use of such a similar design may lead to a “likelihood of confusion” and a “dilution” of its own headstock trademarks.

While the Gibson case is still ongoing, a business owner or creator may find themselves in a similar situation needing to defend something that they believe to be their own intellectual property. If that’s the case, the future of their business may depend on working with an attorney who is familiar with intellectual property litigation.

A lawyer who is well-versed in trademarks may be able to deduce if intellectual property is being infringed upon or if another company is within their rights to proceed. To do so, an attorney may need to review a company’s history in the market, sales records and more information about the company that is potentially infringing upon the trademark.

If there is a case of infringement, an attorney may be able to walk a business owner through the process of recovering financial damages caused by the other entity, helping the two sides work towards a collaboration or simply filing a cease-and-desist order.