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By Andy Malt | Published on Wednesday 5 December 2018
The estate of late Pantera guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott has fought off a copyright infringement lawsuit over his signature guitar. The judge told designer Buddy ‘Blaze’ Webster that the time period for him to bring his case to court had now passed.
Webster filed his lawsuit in April last year, saying that the estate and its business partner Dean Guitars had infringed his copyright by selling replicas of Abbott’s guitar – named Dean From Hell – with its distinctive lightning design.
The designer customised the ‘Dean From Hell’ guitar for Abbott in the 1980s and the musician used it throughout his career, until he was shot and killed on stage in 2004. Since Abbot’s death, Dean Guitars has sold various versions of the instrument.
According to Law360, Webster’s litigation failed because of the so called statute of limitations on copyright actions in the US.
Although the allowable time period for filing copyright actions usually begins with the most recent infringement – which means the last time a Dean From Hell replica guitar was sold – the judge said that Webster’s dispute was actually about copyright ownership. Therefore, the three year window in which he could go legal had now long passed.
Countering this, Webster said that the delay was due to stalled negotiations with Dean Guitars. He also said that he had waited to file his case out of respect for the musician’s mourning family and due to personal issues of his own. While the judge said that some of these reasons were “admirable”, they did not warrant allowing the delayed case to proceed.
Following the ruling, an attorney for the defendants said in a statement that they were happy with the outcome, and that it would allow them to “continue to commemorate Darrell’s legacy through the ‘Dean From Hell’ guitar”.
Meanwhile, a legal rep for Webster told Law360 that the designer was disappointed, but “happy that the record is set straight that he did not authorise the reissues and has made no money from them … Buddy brought the suit out of love and respect for his friend ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott – whom he recognised as a phenomenal talent at the age of fifteen – in protest to what he believed to be the continued exploitation of Darrell’s legacy”.
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