Gibson Vs. PRS

Gibson Guitar Corporation has won a landmark trademark infringement case against manufacturer Paul Reed Smith.

Ultimate Guitar

Gibson Guitar Corp. in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee has won a landmark trademark infringement case against manufacturer Paul Reed Smith. The claim involved Gibson's Les Paul single cutaway guitar with a body design which Paul Reed Smith used without permission or compensation to Gibson. This case declared that Paul Reed Smith infringed Gibson's valid trademark.

Gibson Guitar claimed that the Paul Reed Smith "Singlecut" guitar infringed on the company's trademark which is registered for its Les Paul single cutaway guitar. 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's Les Paul single cutaway guitar is traditionally shaped with a portion removed from the body of the guitar where the lower section of the fingerboard meets the body of the guitar. The term "single cutaway guitar" denotes that portion of the guitar between the neck and its lower part, that appears to be missing from the natural, round body contour. The removal of this portion forms what is often referred to as the "horn."

Gibson claimed that Paul Reed Smith began production of its "single cutaway" guitar called the PRS "Singlecut" in January 2000 in an effort 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. None of the arguments succeeded in convincing Federal District Court Judge William J. Haynes. In a 57-page decision Judge Haynes ruled "that PRS [Paul Reed Smith] was imitating the Les Paul" and gave the parties ninety days "to complete any discovery on damages or disgorgement of PRS's profits on the sales of its offending singlecut guitar."

"We are very pleased with the Court's decision acknowledging Gibson's rights in the Les Paul body shape design trademark," said Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson's Chairman and CEO. "Gibson has fought long and hard to protect its rights to the Les Paul guitar and our other classic designs, and we will continue to do so. This decision is a gratifying vindication of those efforts."

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88 comments sorted by best / new / date

    *** gibson.
    Fuck you. Go Gibson. Their guitars are so much better than PRS. PRS makes good stuff but for god's sake chill with the les paul copies- they're starting to become irritating with so many copies out there. The same thing is beginning to happen with the SG.
    burn gibson burn you ***ing suck die die die die prs is far better, like gibson arent making enough money anyway, singlecut is one of the most commonly used designs anyway so *** you all die gibson with your shit guitars
    I'd tell you to go hang yourself for trash talking one of (if not THE) best guitar makers out there, but you ARE right about the money factor- corpors suck and they don't give a shit about us (as evidanced by the prices). Final verdict- Gibson owns all rights to the les paul models of guitars and PRS should have (and if still possible should) persue a liscensing agreement with gibson. Side note--- gibson's prices suck.
    I really like Gibson Les Pauls, and PRS, but i always wondered why no one was gettin sued because the PRS does look a lot like the Gibson, And PRS and Gibsons are usually around the same price, 3000 dollars
    Blimey...looks like other top LP copies will come under some scrutiny sooner rather than later as well then... Is this good for the electric guitar market overall?
    I own 3 PRS's, every one of them better than ANY gibson I've ever played. I've even been to the Gibson USA Custom Shop in Nashville, TN for a sort of "mecca". But still, PRS plays, feels, and sounds better than all of them. Gibson is now just a name. Because they've been around so long, they have a ton of momentum, and beginners are told from the get-go that Gibson is king. Well, had PRS been around when Gibson had started, Gibson would have gone under! Ted McCarty was soley responsible for the "Les Paul", "SG", "Explorer", "Flying V" and other models. And then went to mentor and design for who? None other than Paul Reed Smith. Even the creator of the Les Paul thought Paul did it better. Eat it Gibson!
    I think Gibson is just desparate because companies like PRS are starting to get more renevue because their guitars do not just come off on an assembly line and the workmanship that goes into PRS guitars is top of the line. What the *** do you know, Relolutionist? You dont know jack squat about Gibson guitars. Gibson is hell of a lot better than PRS. Oh and Iceman86, PRS should lose, *** you!
    jesus people really do care about this- look how damn long this is:s seems that gibson is doing the same thing they did to ibanez when they stealed, yes stealed, the single cutaway design
    you tool gibson guitars are handmade. It says right on the ***ing stats,
    I was being sarcastic, mate.
    Gibson the origionator. The best. I have played lots of Single cuts and Les Pauls. Les Pauls prevail. Gibson's quality is better. Gibsons have more sustain and a better sond than all PRS. Fuck PRS
    Right now obviously PRS is the best brand for any guitar player out true it may not suit YOUR needs and it they may not make great guitars (TO YOU). But truth of the matter big companies are always trying to take down smaller companies. PRS is exactly a small company but most of the more popular guitarist in today's modern music uses PRS Brad Delson (Linkin Park). Billy Martin (GC I dont really like alot of there music) and apperantly they dont make crappy guitars if Carlos Santana only uses PRS. But i think all gibson is doing is a bunch of bull i mean who has not ripped off a les paul design legally or illegally.
    damn guys, get it together. all those other LP clones pay gibson a fee or a percentage of profit when they copy the body design. PRS didn't. THAT'S why they got sued. do you really think Gibson was unaware of LP copies until the year 2000?
    Les pauls are ugly as shit anyway
    are u drunk or a complete idiot...gibson les pauls are the best, they are better than you!
    ^ yea they are quite ugly arent they? the strats looks waaays cooler. and why doesnt fender sue all those other companies that copy the strat? there has to be like 100 big and small companies around the world that copy the strat.
    both are great guitar makers... but i'm sure we all know who's going to win this one. Gibson has been around for a very long time, making them the favorite because of its quality and tradition. Hate to say it, but i think that PRS doesn't have much of a chance.
    the reason most les paul copies are not dead on copies is to avoid this kind of thing but this would set a precedent, there are many differences between the guitars. also companies like agile to not compete in the same market as gibson, although they are competitors with epiphone and so gibson still goes after them, perhaps not as enthusiastically though
    well then, i guess this would be the time when i say i am glad i play fender but gibson is fukin awesome, love the sg model. Always Down With a WIcked Clown ~Gothic Tazz~
    it's not a monopoly at all. gibson has fender to compete with mainly. it's not at all a monopoly. there are also other less threatening companies out there such as ibanez, jackson, schecter, etc.
    i think it is good that there is so much choice out there, Gibsons are obviously good but not for everyone. this is why compaines such as PRS make similar models of the Les Paul (to fit more peoples needs). and its not exactely just PRS making similar ones, basically every company out there has its own version of teh Les Paul. so i don't no why Gibson are getting their knickers in a knot. if you think about it... it happens every where, food,drink,etc. ou dont just see one make of VCR or DVD player? so its the same thing with guitars..
    you all are just a bunch of whiners. you havent even really touched the basic point of the whole deal. if gibson loses a considerable amount of money from this plagerism then they cant afford to pay all their employees and all the bills. my dad nearly lost his company over 1 job. if that is the case with gibson then they are right in sueing prs to save the company. im not saying i favor either of the companys but im just saying you guys for the most part are whining like little babies over some stuff you probably know nothing about. grow up get a life maybe learn how to actually play guitar instead of whining about the companies. it's their deal not yours so why do you even care? for all you whiners i say shut the *** up and stop whining. honestly. so who cars if you prefer PRS, Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, B.C.Rich, Jackson, Schecter, Rogue, Washburn, Peavey, Gretsch,Taylor or anything else. that's your own deal and that doesnt give you the right to come in here and a harrass eachother or the companies of the other brands. and if anyone wants to post whiny comments about me i play an Ibanez exact copy of the gibson SG from like 20 years ago when ibanez got sued for their exact dupe of the sg. and i also play a gibson les paul. and if you wanna actually whine to me personally about this crap my aim is countryguy0230 and my msn is all i have to say now and i cant stress this enough is stop whining about which company is better or how you lost respect for one company cuz of this ordeal. nobody cares about your opinions!
    Encore_God wrote: Blimey...looks like other top LP copies will come under some scrutiny sooner rather than later as well then... Is this good for the electric guitar market overall?
    They pay royalties.
    Encore_God wrote: Blimey...looks like other top LP copies will come under some scrutiny sooner rather than later as well then... They will probably pay royalties to Gibson. Is this good for the electric guitar market overall?
    Wow, I might have bought a gibby but now seeing that gibson is just a bunch of capatalist *****s I might change my mind. PRS got sued over ESP and friends prolly because PRS is the only company that is "competing" with gibson. PRS is the main company taking all of gibson's LP money, so they got their dick lawyers to "fight for justice and uphold the law" Bullshit to me. Although I do think I will buy an LP studio. However, PRS should have gotten their heads out their asses and realized their instruments were almost IDENTICAL. SO..... just my opinion.
    Does Fender Own The rights to the double cutaway style? NO!!!!! Does spain own the rights to the origional acoustic guitar shape? NO!!! Does spain own the rights to producing all guitars NO!!1 Should Every Brand Make Its Own Unique Shape to monopoly over? NO!!!
    The PRS doesn't look that much like the les paul, no more than the ESP les paul copy. why doesn't gibson sue esp for all they are worth.
    why do people care about this crap?? its their design so if they wanna sue someone for copying it let them. its their company and money.
    u know wuts wierd? ppl in this post actually thinks that gibsons sounds better than a PRS, or that gibsons play better... obviously, they havent touched a PRS before... when i go into shops, there is a room with glass cages with PRS guitars in em.. and outside the room, u got the shelves of gibsons.. i mean.. just looking at that, u get an idea whats better... gibsons suck
    Just about every low quality guitar company have copied the single cutaway Gibson....the only reason they are bitching about it now is because PRS are VERY high quality guitars, most moreso than Gibson models. If you look into it, most of the PRS guitars sold are Custom 24's and 22's and not so many single cutaways. Gibson needs to suck it up and deal with some ACTUAL competition.
    Gibson are a bunch of whinging little girls. Clearly the PRS singlecut is different from the Les Paul, any guitarist could see that, we aren't stupid. Clearly the judge who made the decision hasn't played a note in his life, either that or he's playing a Gibson. Competition is good. Gibson, you SUCK.
    i just find it really funny that gibson cant take a little competition. PRS is becoming a rising star with guitarists....more and more guitarists have started using prs guitars. They are awesome guitars. But i just dont get the point of gibson starting all this turmoil. ill give u the fact that the singlecut and les paul are similar in certain ways...but they are also different in many ways too. I mean it seems like gibson is more worried about making money that making their product. Dont get me wrong gibson guitars are awesome...but just cause they cant take a little competition doesnt mean they had to go down this road. They could have done somthing else, than causeing all this crap. it just seems stupid. Just my opinion but i think gibson is a rather whiny company. I mean they cant take some competition, thats stupid...they could have at least tried to do somthing else that drawing out the matter in court. ???.. i might havent heard the whole story...but i just think it is stupid. i wont buy a gibson, even though they are awesome.... i just dont like the idea that a company is more about making money than making a product. dont get me wrong all companies are money hungry.,,,but it just seems like gibson is pretty bad. But im not trying to bust ne bodies chops...its just my not trashing ne body that says it was right or dont start yelling and screaming and ranting at me for no reason. im being nice...about dont bother being an ass. ne ways rock on everybody
    I think the premise behind the decision is bizarre; for any moron should be able to look at the signature on the head stock of the PRS Single Cut and tell it ant no Less Paul! even if the moron cant read; does Gibson really believe musicians are that stupid? The Judge case must have been on crack to buy any of it.
    Gibson is a cry baby company. They sued Tokai, they sued Ibanez and now PRS. I'll never buy a another Gibson. F*** them
    Tom Trendy
    I totally agree with Gibson. They did the right thing by suing. I have nothing against PRS guitars and hope to own one someday, but they shouldn't be ripping off the look. Have you seen them? They look exactly like a les paul except for the pickguards and headstock.
    i like gibson but to go and sue another guitar company isnt cool. i have respect for PRS as well as Gibson but that is just low. after all plagarism is the sincerist form of flattery. stupid Gibson company. always picking on the little guy
    shit....i used to like gibson i own a gibson les paul.....guess what...*** selling it and buying a prs custom 22 if i cant have my gibson sucks
    how many guitar designers have copied the lp design and not been sued??meh, maybe they got permission.whetever
    les pauls are great, but they are UGLY! face it people, it's like a street racer car. It has great performance and all but the paint job (in this case the design) is terrible. it should be the opposite. someone should take les paul technology and put it in a much better design. that would make a killing.
    I personally like the PRS a lot better and I like the sinlge cut PRS a lot more than the Gibson, but they are VERY similar in shape and I think that Gibson, even though they are to high priced in my opinion, own the right to the les paul, they are the original les paul people.
    you tool gibson guitars are handmade. It says right on the ***ing stats,
    Gibson reserves the right to change specifications without notice. Because Gibson brand guitars are handcrafted, it is normal for some measurements to vary from those listed.
    . jesus.. and if you don't believe me go to and look at the bottom of the guitar profiles, it says right there. And by the way Gibson is probably one of the most famous companies out there. If I made a guitar that set the standard for all top of th eline guitars, and it was constantly ripped off, I'd sue to. This is pathetic.
    I think Gibson is just desperate because companies like PRS are starting to get more revenue becuase their guitars do not just come off of an assembly line and the workmanship that goes into PRS guitars is top of the line.
    And I thought gibsons were handmade... shame on me for being so foolish.
    I was under the impression that Copyrights could only hold for 50 years, and that was why there were so many Tele & Strat copies but the SG & Les Paul copies would get sued or shut down by gibson. If that is the case, then perhaps gibson was just trying to make a point from this high profile case that they own the rights to the les paul design. To scare away other potential copiers. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the les paul, the flood gates will open then. of course I may be wrong about the copyright thing.