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Warwick Succeeds Over Gibson in Second Chamber of the EU General Court Decision Holding V-Shaped Guitars are Generic

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • Featured
  • Upfront
• Created: July 1, 2019
In a longstanding trademark dispute with Gibson Brands, Inc. over the cancellation of Gibson’s V-Shaped guitar trademark, Warwick, led by owner Hans-Peter Wilfer, successfully argued that the V-Shaped guitar cannot act as a trademark for a musical instrument in the EU.
In its sweeping decision, the Second Chamber of the EU General Court agreed that numerous guitar manufacturers across the World make V-shaped guitars and, thus, the relevant public does not view V-Shaped guitars as belonging to
any single guitar maker. Gibson had lost the two previous decisions in this matter and now its only recourse is to appeal to the European Court of Justice. In Warwick’s case-in-chief, it submitted hundreds of guitar magazine images from the United States, Canada, and the European Union, which showed advertisements of other guitar manufacturers’ V-Shaped guitars. Warwick also submitted images of dozens of famous musicians using non-Gibsonmanufactured V-Shaped guitars.
The Second Chamber’s far-reaching decision affirmed the Board ofAppeal’s determination that these publications, including those from North America, were relevant to show that the guitar market is a global one. The Second Chamber effectively denied Gibson’s claim that because it created the V-Shaped guitar in 1958, no one else can use the shape. Any originality the shape may have had 50 years ago, the Second Chamber confirmed, does not make up for the fact the relevant public now is confronted by numerous companies making similar, if not identical, V-Shaped guitars.
“We are very pleased with this decision and I would personally like to thank the work of our legal team in helping us reach this outcome,” remarked Mr. Wilfer. “Based on this landmark decision, Warwick will continue its long-standing tradition of providing its customers with well-crafted original and timeless guitars and basses.”

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