–Dan Kelly, Attorney
In November I commented on Gibson Guitar Corp.’s suit against the makers and retailers of PAPER JAMZ toy guitars. To recap briefly, past efforts by both Gibson and Fender Music to enforce trademark interests in their respective guitar body shapes have been largely unsuccessful.
On December 21, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted a preliminary injunction to Gibson enjoining the defendants from selling, promoting, distributing, etc. the Paper Jamz goods. (PDF of order here.) The Court did not issue a memorandum decision with the order. The defendants appealed on December 22, and on December 23, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the injunction pending appeal and ordered the District Court to provide, orally or in writing, its reasons for granting the injunction, which reasons were due on January 6.
But then, on January 7, everything came to a screeching halt. The parties settled. The only report I can find is here, and it says precious little.
While I had been salivating to see another judicial opinion on the protectability of guitar body shapes–particularly one that might have softened the current panoply of cases that have variously cut against the likes of Gibson and Fender in their ongoing efforts to secure stronger protection for their guitar body shapes–this case is a good reminder that most cases do, in fact, settle.
As to the settlement terms, we probably can only speculate, as confidentiality is often a standard settlement term. Gibson clearly had momentum in the court proceedings, and the WowWee folks seem to be doing fairly brisk business at retailers all over, so my best guess is that WowWee bought a license and peace.
We will, of course, report developments.