Gibson Guitar denies price fixing

Feb. 18, 2010 at 4:22 PM

NASHVILLE, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Gibson Guitar Corp. denied it had colluded with other U.S. manufacturers, a trade association and a retail outlet to fix prices on its musical instruments.

"The allegation that Gibson participated in any scheme to artificially inflate or fix prices is wholly without merit," the company said in a statement.

The Nashville Tennessean reported Thursday that Gibson is listed in 30 lawsuits and has been subject of a Federal Trade Commission investigation involving Fender Musical Instruments Corp., the Guitar Center and the International Music Products Association, known as NAMM.

The FTC investigation spun off of a previous probe of NAMM, which the FTC accused of organizing meetings where various retailers worked out pricing strategies.

That investigation ended with NAMM admitting no wrongdoing, but being prohibited from working with retailers in any anti-competitive fashion.

The Music Trades Magazine editor Brian Majeski said the lawsuits were "a colossal distraction" for Gibson, which already laid off 50 workers in a recession-related slowdown.

Nashville retailer George Gruhn called the lawsuits "complete hogwash," given he still prices Gibson guitars below prices found at Guitar Center, the largest U.S. musical instrument retailer.

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