Guitar Maker Evades Copyright Claims Over Pantera Guitar Design

Written April 22, 2020

The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on April 16, 2020, affirmed a lower court ruling denying successful guitar maker and technician Buddy Webster’s copyright infringement claims against Dean Guitars. Webster v. Dean Guitars, 11th Cir., No. 19-10013, 4/16/20.

Webster modified a Dean ML guitar and added a lightning storm graphic to create late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott’s “Dean from Hell” guitar. Webster learned Dean was selling reissues of the guitar in 2004, and told it in 2006 that it couldn’t sell the reissues without his permission. Dean responded in 2007 that it believed Abbott’s estate was the legal owner of the design.

The Eleventh Circuit found that Webster’s claim was barred under the Copyright Act’s three-year limit, because he had reason to know of his claims as early as 2004 when he learned of the reissues, and at the latest in 2007, when Dean questioned his ownership of the design.