The estate of PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott has filed a lawsuit against Dean Guitars, with whom he has had an endorsement deal for a number of years.
The news of the legal dispute was shared earlier today on social media by Dimebag's longtime girlfriend and trustee of his esate, Rita Haney. She wrote: "After much consideration, it is with great sadness that I announce the longstanding relationship between Dimebag and Dean Guitars is over. Unfortunately, we were forced to file a lawsuit against Dean Guitars on Monday, August 16th, for the reason set forth in the complaint that may be viewed at www.dimebagdarrell.com. It was necessary for us to end Dime's endorsement of Dean Guitars to continue to honor and celebrate his legacy the way he deserves, and in the way he had laid it out.
"We do not make this decision lightly and it is with a heavy heart that we share this news with you, Dime's loyal fans. As you know, after signing the deal with Dean Guitars in 2004, Dime was ecstatic to finally be working with the one and only, Mr. Dean Zelinsky, who's been gone from the company since 2008. Darrell had voiced several times that it was like going home where he belonged. It was something he was enormously proud of.
"I have spent days, re-reading through all of Darrell's guitar notes, lists, letters, and drawings (some not yet released). knowing Darrell's wishes and seeing them written down on paper, once again, after all these years solidifies that he would not have stayed. I want to see Dime's words followed through and to have his legacy reach the level he intended.
"I made several attempts to amicably settle our dispute with Dean Guitars. however, it became clear to me that Dimebag's relationship with Dean Guitars had come to an end when the new CEO of Dean Guitars told me that Dime has been dead for 16 years and they could not make the money they once did.. (so basically, he's used up???) and then continued on to tell me i should go somewhere else. Well... we will!
"Moving forward, our goal will be to ensure the rightful and respectful celebration of Dime's legacy and the indelible mark he and his music made on this world. It is with absolute conviction that we say that this can no longer happen whilst continuing to partner with Dean Guitars.
"As fans, we hope that you feel as we do. Our love for Dime has not wavered in the 16 plus years since his passing and he is still as relevant to us today, despite what we have been told by Dean Guitars. We want to capture the 'spirit of the deal' that was discarded by Dean Guitars, like it should have always been done. In this spirit, we soon hope to have more positive news to share with you regarding the future of 'Dime guitars.'
"Dime loved his fans so very much, in return, you guys have never wavered in your loyalty and love for him. We cannot thank you enough for your continued support.
"Long live Dimebag Darrell! Getcha pull!"
Dimebag's affiliation with Dean goes back to when he was 14. He played Dean guitars throughout PANTERA's heyday in the mid-1990s. He switched to Washburn Guitars late in the decade, a time when Dean Guitars had practically disappeared from the American market. But when Dimebag's contract with Washburn ended, he inked an endorsement deal with Dean, which Elliot Rubinson had revived. Dimebag died three weeks later at the age of 38.
In the lawsuit, Haney calls Dean's current CEO Evan Rubinson, the son of the late Elliot Rubinson, "incredibly disrespectful and often times belligerent to the legacy of Abbott. He acted without regard for the success Abbott brought to his father's company, and to which ultimately contributed to his inheritance," the complaint reads. "Given the misdealings uncovered by Ms. Haney, she felt that Dean Guitars had taken complete advantage of Abbott over the years and refused to continue a business relationship with Dean Guitars unless Dean Guitars was willing to right its wrongs."
The complaint goes on to accuse Dean Guitars of breaching its endorsement agreement with Dimebag in that it "never paid the contracted amount for each full cover photo that have been printed with Abbott playing a Dean guitar, with the Dean Guitars' logo and/or trademark prominently displayed; failed to provide the imported and domestic models for each line of Abbott endorsed guitars produced by Dean Guitars, and other guitars for personal and promotional use; fraudulently, in conjunction with Concordia and without the knowledge of Abbott, registered the trademark for Razorback and the Razorback guitar design, both of which were the sole property of Abbott, in Concordia's name; in conjunction with Concordia, transferred the Razorback trademark, which was the sole property of Abbott, to a third party without the knowledge of Abbott; and in conjunction with Concordia, acquired the registered trade dress for the guitar design known as the Dime3 in its own name, without Abbott's knowledge and without recognizing Abbott as a joint owner."
Dimebag and his brother Vinnie Paul co-founded PANTERA. When PANTERA broke up in 2003, they formed DAMAGEPLAN. On December 8, 2004, while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag was shot and killed onstage by a troubled schizophrenic who believed that the members of PANTERA were stealing his thoughts.