Warwick/Framus declares victory over Gibson in Flying V legal battle

Warwick/Framus V-shaped bass
(Image credit: Warwick/Framus)

German instrument manufacturer Warwick has said it has “finally” won a legal dispute with Gibson relating to the shape of one of its Framus basses.

The guitar manufacturer was approached by Gibson’s legal team in 2014, who objected to the sale of a V-shaped bass under its Framus brand. 

Gibson considered it to be too similar in design to its own iconic Flying V instruments and alleged that customers were being misled about the origins of the instrument. 

The case eventually went to court in Germany and the Hamburg Regional Court originally decided in favor of Gibson, before The Higher Regional Court then overturned the decision in November 2020. 

Meissner Bolte, the law firm acting for Warwick throughout the dispute, stated that:

“In spite of the same shape, the brand and the manufacturer's reference could be clearly recognised. Potential buyers could distinguish the guitars and were therefore not misled about the origin of the instruments from different manufacturers. 

“The Higher Regional Court did not see any unfair exploitation of reputation as both guitars were high-quality, high-priced models and Warwick therefore did not participate in the good reputation of the Gibson variant.”

Gibson had since taken the case to the German Federal Supreme Court only to see its appeal dismissed on September 22. This means Gibson cannot make further claims under the German Unfair Competition Act (UWG).

Guitar World has contacted Gibson for comment.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.