The “Flying V” is one of the more identifiable guitars in rock, but Gibson has run into trouble trying to lay claim to the body shape in Europe. According to, a judgement was recently handed down by the Second Chamber of the EU General Court that stated “there has been no demonstration of distinctive character acquired” by Gibson.

The court also ruled that “when the application for registration of the challenged mark was filed, the V-shape did not depart significantly from the norms and customs of the sector.”

Gibson first started action toward trademarking the body shape back in 2010 and was initially granted a patent application for the Flying V with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). However, in 2014, Hans-Peter Wilfer of Warwick and Framus challenged the registration.

In 2016, Wilfer’s complaint was upheld by the court. Since then, Gibson has appealed and lost again in 2018 before the appeal eventually moved on to the EU General Court.

The court also stated in the judgement that while the Flying V “was very original when it was released on the market in 1958, it cannot however deny the evolution of the market during the following 50 years, which was henceforward characterized by a wide variety of available shapes.” In the ruling, the court also dismissed the idea that the “Flying V” shape was only associated with Gibson.

Gibson does retain its trademark for the “Flying V” in terms of clothing and jewelry in Europe. Meanwhile, the company is seeking to enforce their “Flying V” trademark in the U.S., recently filing a lawsuit against the parent company Dean Guitars and Luna Guitars in a Texas court, alleging trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting, unfair competition and trademark dilution on the part of Florida-based Armadillo Distribution Enterprises, Inc.

According to, Armadillo’s CEO recently stated that the suit was “entirely baseless,” announcing their intent to “vigorously defend ourselves and seek to cancel Gibson’s alleged trademark registrations.”

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