Gibson Guitar Wins Paul Reed Smith Trademark Case

Mar 22, 2004 12:00 PM, Editors


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Gibson Guitar Corp. won a landmark trademark-infringement case against manufacturer Paul Reed Smith. The claim involved Gibson’s Les Paul single cut-away guitar with a body design that Smith used without permission or compensation to Gibson. This case declared that Smith infringed Gibson’s valid trademark.

Included in the claim is the fact that the Paul Reed Smith model unjustly used the Les Paul design and would cause confusion in the marketplace and damages to Gibson Guitar, the amount of which now will be determined in the next phase of the proceedings.

Gibson claimed that Paul Reed Smith began production of its “single cut-away” guitar called the PRS “Single-Cut” in January 2000 to market a guitar that looked just like the Gibson Les Paul.

Paul Reed Smith advanced multiple arguments as to why its guitar design did not violate Gibson’s registered trademark shape. However, in a 57-page decision, Judge William J. Haynes ruled “that PRS [Paul Reed Smith] was imitating the Les Paul” and gave the parties 90 days “to complete any discovery on damages or disgorgement of PRS’ profits on the sales of its offending single-cut guitar.”

For more information on the Gibson Les Paul, visit

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