Dean Guitars' Dimebag Commemorative ML limited-edition model

Dean Guitars Wins Copyright Lawsuit

Dean Guitars and the estate of late Pantera founder and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott won a copyright suit filed against them by luthier and guitar designer Buddy Webster, also known as Buddy Blaze, Dec. 3.

Attorneys for Webster filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against Dean Guitars, the guitar maker's parent company Armadillo Enterprises, Guitar Center, the estate of Abbott and others April 2017. The source of the conflict was centered on the design of Abbott's "Dean From Hell," which Webster claimed he created and had not been compensated for his work in later reissues of the model by Dean Guitars.

In court documents, Webster's attorneys alleged that he had come into possession of a Dean ML electric guitar that previously belonged to Abbott. The allegations in the court documents say that when Webster owned the guitar, he had modified its neck, changed hardware and stripped the paint to create a new design.

After making the modifications, Webster gave Abbott the guitar back as a gift — and the instrument came to be known as the "Dean From Hell" as Abbott's band Pantera reached international fame. After Abbott's death in 2004, Dean Guitars had released commemorative reissues of the "Dean From Hell." One such model was the Dimebag Commemorative ML limited-edition guitar released in 2015, which followed the same specifications of Abbott's "Dean From Hell."

In 2008 and 2009, according to Webster's lawsuit, the guitar designer had collaborated with Dean Guitars on the Buddy Blaze Signature model, but it was not the same model at the center of the court proceedings. Webster's lawsuit alleged he had previously told the late Dean Guitars CEO Elliott Rubinson that "the company should enter into an agreement with [Webster] because it was copying his design."

But in a motion filed June 2018, Abbott's estate and Armadillo Enterprises pushed back on Webster's right to the guitar's design, pointing out that the "Dean From Hell" was painted by artist Craig Patchin after receiving instructions from Webster. With this, and the fact that Webster wasn't present when the design was painted, the motion states that Webster has no claim to the design. The motion also states that Patchin had recently signed over the rights to the graphic on the guitar to Abbott's estate, making it the sole owner.

Dean Guitars President and CEO Evan Rubinson made an announcement on the company's Facebook page Nov. 30 after learning the ruling, expressing his satisfaction with the results.

"After a long-fought battle to defend the legacy that is #DimebagDarrell, we emerged victorious on summary judgment on every single claim by Buddy Blaze (Webster)," Rubinson said. "Dean Guitars & the Dimebag Darrell Estate are pleased to announce that we are back & better than ever!"