Whether you work in sales or continually think of new products to develop, you want to make sure you get credit for your work.

Trademark protection allows you to keep the intellectual property (IP) rights to the products you create. However, recent lawsuits serve as an example of how trademarks may not last forever.

What is so special about a Flying V?

Many guitarists believe Gibson makes some of the best guitars in the world. Internationally, musicians respect the company’s Les Paul. And the Flying V design has created waves throughout the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

Since its inception in the 1950s, the stars known for playing a Flying V include:

  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Paul Stanley
  • Richie Sambora
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Keith Richards

Perhaps due to the guitar’s success, Gibson recently filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Armadillo Enterprises, the parent company of Dean Guitars.

Legal action can go both ways

Gibson took legal action in June 2019. However, Armadillo asked to dismiss the lawsuit.

Armadillo also filed a counterclaim to invalidate Gibson’s Flying V trademark, among other guitar styles, and accused Gibson of interfering with their dealer relationships.

According to news reports, Gibson asked guitar dealers to stop selling specific Armadillo guitars. This was troublesome for retailers, who base their bottom line on sales – often offering both guitar brands to make ends meet.

However, Armadillo asserts that Gibson’s design is generic and does not serve as a “source identifier for guitars.”

Could you end up in a similar situation?

In terms of trademark rights, it is too soon to know what a court will decide in this case. However, if you are concerned about maintaining your own IP rights, be sure to file maintenance documents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Regular filing can help you maintain your trademark, guitar-related or not.