The Wrath Of Gibson

Guitar maker sues Funko for Pop! figures copyright infringement

By Gary Graff
January 1, 2018

Those vinyl Funko Pop! figures may be cute, but that’s not stopping Gibson Brands Inc. from suing over them.

According to court filings earlier this month, Gibson claims it sent Funko a cease and desist letter when the company announced plans to issue figures of Slash, Metallica’s James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, and Ace Frehley all playing Gibson-style guitar.

Funko released the figures anyway, and after negotiations to settle the matter proved fruitless Gibson filed the suit in California federal court, saying Funko is “deliberately and intentionally” violating Gibson’s trademarks without the company’s permission: “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. 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 is seeking an injunction to halt distribution and sales of the figures, as well as monetary damages.