Musicians in New York and around the country may know that Heritage Guitars was formed in 1984 by former Gibson Guitars employees. The workers chose to go their own way when Gibson moved production from its iconic Kalamazoo, Michigan, factory to a manufacturing facility in Tennessee. The relationship between the two companies got off to a rocky start when Gibson accused Heritage of copying its designs, but those problems were resolved quickly. Gibson and Heritage have since coexisted peacefully, but recent reports in trade publications suggest that the two guitar makers will soon be facing off in court.
According to the reports, Heritage has filed a lawsuit against Gibson that seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to put an end to what its attorneys describe as a “campaign of harassment.” The attorneys claim that Gibson has threatened to use its considerable resources to overwhelm Heritage with legal fees to put it out of business.
Gibson says that it wants to avoid litigation and puts the blame on Heritage. The company claims that Heritage violated the terms of a confidential agreement when they issued a series of guitars that infringed on protected intellectual property. Gibson attorneys also allege that Heritage is using language on its website and in its online marketing materials that imply the new guitars are Gibson products.
Legal disputes over intellectual assets often feature litigants who point fingers at one another. While the laws involved are complex, resolving these matters generally comes down to determining whether or not the actions involved would likely confuse or mislead the public. Attorneys with experience in this area may encourage their clients to avoid the costs of a protracted legal battle by seeking an amicable resolution at the negotiating table.