Gibson’s Trademark Protection Filing Gets The “V” Sign From The European Union General Court

Company’s Attempt to Trademark the Flying V Shape in Europe Falters


In Europe, the U.K. in particular, getting the “V” sign directed at you is the equivalent to receiving the middle finger in the U.S. And that’s pretty much what the European Union General Court did to Gibson’s longstanding attempt to trademark the V guitar shape in Europe. In a courtesy and professional way, of course.


It’s a case that has actually been winding its way through the E.U. system for some years now. Gibson’s original petition for trademark protection was offered in 2010. However, Hans Peter-Wilfer, owner of Warwick and Framus, pushed back in 2014 on the trademark protection for “V” styled instruments that Gibson was seeking.


In late 2016, the European Union Intellectual Property Office, the entity that handles such issues, ultimately agreed with Framus and Warwick, stating “…the challenged mark was devoid of inherent distinctive character for the goods at issue.” The “V” shape, as far as musical instruments go, just ain’t unique enough to warrant such protection.


Gibson appealed that decision in early 2017, and the case eventually landed in E.U. General Court. On June 28, 2019, the E.U. General Court dismissed Gibson’s appeal. Technically there are still some options that Gibson could pursue in the E.U., but it seems unlikely that subsequent rulings will be any different.


The parallels to Gibson’s lawsuit against Armadillo Enterprises/Dean are pretty obvious, though it’s tough to say how much a decision from a different governing body with different laws in a different part of the world is going to inspire the U.S. courts handling the case. Still, it could conceivably provide some ammunition to Aramdillo’s defense. This humble writer did not sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night and is therefore unqualified to offer any sound legal judgements on, well, anything, but if you’re so inclined, you can check out the E.U. General Court’s decision (available here:


So what do you think? Is this just a speed bump in Gibson’s trademark case here in the U.S. or the first of several bells tot all for Gibson’s trademark battle?

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