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Gibson, Heritage Settle Guitar Antitrust Claims

 |  January 29, 2023

Heritage Guitar agreed to drop its antitrust lawsuit against Gibson Brands in a settlement that also ended Gibson’s trademark counterclaims—which a Michigan federal judge had already deemed “baseless.”

US District Court Judge Hala Y. Jarbou of the Western District of Michigan signed off on a joint stipulation Friday dismissing all claims with prejudice. Details of the settlement weren’t immediately available.

In a statement, Meng Ru Kuok, CEO of Heritage Guitars and Caldecott Music Group, said of the decision: “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.”

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“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.”

Heritage was formed by former Gibson employees who stayed at the brand’s original 225 Parsons Street factory when Gibson moved.  The high-profile legal case between the two brands began when Heritage accused Gibson of threatening to take legal action regarding guitar shapes – seemingly going against the terms of the brand’s 1991 settlement with Gibson, which set out the ways in which Heritage could continue to make certain styles of electric guitars after Gibson first accused it of infringement.

Heritage also introduced an antitrust aspect to the case in 2021, claiming that Gibson was attempting to monopolise the guitar market through various means – including by cutting ties with retailer Swee Lee, which, like Heritage, is part of Vista Musical Instruments. In response, Gibson asserted that it was abiding by the terms of the 1991 agreement and made various counterclaims against the monopolisation accusations.