Gibson opposes Collings headstock trademark registration

Collings and Gibson headstocks
(Image credit: Future)

Gibson has issued a notice of opposition to Collings Guitars’ attempt to trademark its headstock design, citing “likelihood of confusion”.

Collings’ trademark application was made on March 31, 2019, with Gibson’s opposition filed on June 17, 2020.

In the notice of opposition, Gibson claims it believes it “will be damaged by the registration” of Collings’ headstock trademark, on the grounds of its similarity to three Gibson headstock designs: the classic Dove Wing design; 1939 Emperor design (commonly seen on Epiphone models); and the 1963 Epiphone design, which was recently revived for new models from the brand.

Gibson notes that it has been using its own designs “at least as early as 1922”, and they “are distinctive to both the consuming public” and the guitar trade as a whole.

“As a result of its widespread, continuous, and exclusive use”, the notice continues, Gibson “owns valid and subsisting federal statutory and common law rights” to these marks.

Collings and Gibson headstocks

Collings' headstock design and Gibson's Dove Wing design (Image credit: Future)

The notice’s first ground for opposition claims that the Collings headstock so resembles Gibson’s designs “as to be likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive with respect to the source or origin” of Collings’ guitars.

Secondly, it is claimed that should the trademark be granted, it “would be likely to impair the distinctiveness, and cause dilution by blurring” of Gibson’s designs.

Guitar World has reached out to Gibson for comment.

This is the latest in a series of legal actions by Gibson. This week, the company issued a statement regarding its trademark dispute with Satellite Amplifiers over the Coronet trademark.

Earlier this year, a cease-and-desist was allegedly sent to Kiesel Guitars, while a 2019 copyright infringement lawsuit involving Dean and Luna Guitars owner Armadillo is ongoing.

Last year, Gibson announced plans to move from “confrontation toward collaboration”, leading to the launch of its Authorized Partnership Program, which saw the company partner with boutique builders on licensed shapes. The first of these models arrived in November 2019 from Banker Custom Guitars.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.