Gibson and Heritage have agreed to drop all legal action against one another, after reaching a mutual and undisclosed settlement. Both will pay their own legal fees.
Back in 2020, Heritage filed a complaint against Gibson after the guitar giant accused it of attempting to “re-write Gibson’s history [and] blatantly breach a good faith contract”.
Heritage, Gibson said, “launched some guitars” which “did not respect” specific Gibson designs, adding that it used “misleading and misrepresenting” language in its website’s product pages.
After subsequently launching legal action against Gibson, Heritage introduced an antitrust aspect to the case in 2021, claiming that Gibson was attempting to gain a monopoly on the guitar market. Gibson responded with various counterclaims against Heritage's claims of monopolisation.
However, in a new statement released by Gibson, the guitar giant says it’s “pleased the matter Heritage brought to Gibson has been dismissed”.
“For 130 years, Gibson has invested in innovation and been at the forefront of guitar development and evolution,” it says. “As the matter is now resolved, Gibson can move forward and focus on innovation with confidence. These investments and innovations are at the center of Gibson and are protected under intellectual property rights, commonly referred to as “IP”.
“Gibson’s unique designs are registered and trademarked shapes that are the exclusive property of Gibson.”
In his own statement, Meng Ru Kuok, CEO of Heritage Guitars and Caldecott Music Group, says [via Guitar.com (opens in new tab)]: “We are delighted that matters have been resolved and we can now focus on what really matters – carrying on the tradition of guitar craftsmanship and excellence at 225 Parsons Street [Heritage’s factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan].
“We are even more invigorated and committed to continuing to build the world’s finest American-made musical instruments for our community of artists and fans around the world.”
Gibson has been embroiled in a number of legal disputes over the past few years, perhaps most notably with Dean Guitars. Last year, a court ruled in Gibson's favor in a high-profile trademark case against Dean, but awarded the guitar giant just $4,000 in damages.
More recently, Gibson accused Dean of being in contempt of court following the ruling, alleging that the brand continued to advertise its V and Z Series guitars.
However, in November, a judge threw out Gibson's latest claim, asserting that “almost all issues raised in Gibson's contempt motions had been resolved”.