Gibson Suing Funko Over Unauthorized Use of Les Paul Guitar Designs
Those cute vinyl Pop! figures, part of a toy line featuring bobble head renderings of notables across the pop culture spectrum, suddenly got a bit less adorable with the news that Gibson Brands Inc. is suing Funko, the company behind the characters. The guitar company is levying charges of “repeated” unauthorized use of its trademarks for various components of the guitars in Funko’s toys.
According to the site Law 360, Gibson sued Funko in California federal court earlier this month (Dec. 14). The company says they sent a cease and desist letter to Funko in October along with a list of the products which infringed upon their trademark after talks between the two parties were unsuccessful at coming to a mutually beneficial resolution without the courts involved. Gibson alleges that Funko is “deliberately and intentionally” using Gibson’s trademarks without its consent.
“The misuse of the Gibson trademarks by Funko was intended to cause, has caused, and is likely to continue to cause, consumer confusion, mistake or deception including the misleading of consumers into mistakenly believing that the defendant’s unauthorized products are made directly by Gibson pursuant to Gibson’s strict quality control standards or Gibson has authorized or licensed the use by Funko of the Gibson trademarks for those products,” the complaint says.
Some of the figures which have been cited in the case are of Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, ex-KISS member Ace Frehley and Metallica. All feature a Gibson guitar depicted in some form.
“Despite its constructive and actual knowledge of the infringement of the Gibson trademarks by defendant’s unauthorized products, Funko has continued to provide defendant’s unauthorized products to distributors whom then sell defendant’s unauthorized products to the end consumer,” Gibson's lawyers contend.
Gibson is seeking injunctive and monetary relief under the Lanham Act - also known as the Trademark Act of 1946 - and California law, and demanded in the complaint a jury trial on all issues. According to the company, trademarks for the guitars were all registered in the U.S. for stringed instruments, with one for almost 30 years. Gibson also says the company has spent millions promoting its “distinctive designs” for more than 50 years and that applications were pending for toy figures and toy model guitars.
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