Fashion Designer Marc Jacobs Responds to Nirvana ‘Blatant Ripoff’ Design Lawsuit
The rock community and the fashion world are at it again. This past December, Nirvana filed a lawsuit against luxury fashion brand Marc Jacobs for creating a "blatant ripoff" off the band's logo in its "Bootleg Redux Grunge" collection. Marc Jacobs has responded, requesting that the lawsuit be dismissed.
Nirvana's signature yellow smiley face with X's for eyes and the name written above is typically seen on a black background. In Jacobs's collection, there is a t-shirt with a similar smiley face with an M and a J for eyes, instead of X's, and the word "Heaven" written above rather than the band name - an undeniable reference to the rock legends. See an image below.
Nirvana, L.L.C., which protects the estate of late frontman Kurt Cobain along with surviving members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, attacked the product. They claimed it is a "blatant ripoff" of their smiley face logo, which they have owned since 1992, adding that the band were "founders of the 'grunge' music scene," inferring the name of the line is not appropriate either. They have requested monetary damage and the removal of the product from sale as compensation in the case.
The fashion designer's lawyers defended the brand when responding to the lawsuit, stating that the band does not own copyright for the smiley face and pointed out the (subtle) differences between his product and the band's logo. They argue that the word "Nirvana" is not used, the exact font is not used and the smiley face is different because of the choice of letter for the eyes.
The motion in defense of the brand reads, "The Complaint stems from the false premise that the Plaintiff owns a U.S. copyright registration on a smiley face design (albeit a different one than the one found on the Accused Products), when in fact, that smiley face is merely a fraction of the full artwork covered by the registration and the remainder of the covered artwork is not alleged to have been used on the Accused Products...For the reasons stated herein, the Complaint should be dismissed for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted with regard to each cause of action."
Additionally, the brand's team states that this release of the collection is commemorative of Jacobs's 1992 collection "Grunge," also noting his relationship with Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, and daughter Frances Bean Cobain. The motion continues, "Both Ms. Love and Ms. Cobain 'liked' and commented on the images of the collection that Mr. Jacobs posted on his Instagram feed, including, notably, images of Mr. Jacobs in the t-shirt that is one of the Accused Products. Ms. Love commented on one of the images of Mr. Jacobs in that shirt, saying, 'Nice photo! Looks some [sic] what familiar! Amazing!'”
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