Gibson Sues Funko for Trademark Infringement Over Guitars on Toys

The people at Funko are saying fuck no today. Funko has been sued by Gibson for the unauthorized use of its guitars on toys attached to some legendary musicians.

Funko is an American company that manufactures and sells licensed (usually) pop culture toys. Funko is most known for producing licensed vinyl figures and bobbleheads of all things great and small. I am sure everyone has a Funko Marvel or Star Wars figure by now. Funko gets permission to copy the likeness of such people or characters but sometimes its the little things that slip through the cracks.

Gibson is the most famous guitar maker in the world and it not only has trademark protection for its name but also registered trade dress for the look of its guitars. You can see some of these trademarks below.

Image of Gibson Guitars Trademarks
Gibson Guitar Trademarks

Before everyone gets up in arms, no you cannot protect the functional elements of a guitar such as the design but you can protect the nonfunctional elements. For example, there is no need for the v shape of a guitar arm, it has no affect on the way a guitar works, therefore it is nonfunctional and entitled to protection.

Gibson sent a error-filled cease and desist letter to Funko (at one point repeatedly calling the company “Funco”) claiming that their trademarks were being used on such toys as Slash (Guns N Roses), Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley (Kiss), and Kirk Hammet and James Hetfield (Metallica). The letter gave Funko an opportunity to get a license or get sued and guess which one happened?

Gibson asserts claims for trademark infringement, counterfeiting, and related causes of action for the unauthorized use of the Gibson trademarks. The same error-prone law firm that sent out the cease and desist letter also filed this complaint. In the complaint, they wrongfully attribute the maximum statutory damages for counterfeiting of $1 million. It was actually changed to $2 million years ago but who needs to trifle with such things as details. I am sure this is something that Funko just didn’t think about when producing the toys in question and that the companies can come to a speedy solution meaning cough up some dough, Funko.