Marc Jacobs denies ripping off Nirvana’s iconic logo

Marc Jacobs' attorneys are asking that the copyright lawsuit be dismissed.

March 11, 2019
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In December of 2018, designer Marc Jacobs was sued by Nirvana, L.L.C. for copyright infringement stating that Jacobs allegedly used the band’s “Happy Face” logo without permission. Now, Jacobs has responded, denying the claims and requesting that the lawsuit be dismissed.

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According to Pitchfork, attorneys for Nirvana claim that Jacobs used the band’s infamous smiley logo for their “Redux Grunge Collection”, released this past November.

The design is included on several pieces in the collection including a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and a pair of socks.

Nirvana filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement in December, claiming the designer used their logo without authorization.

According to TMZ, Nirvana has owned the trademark for their iconic smiley face since 1992.

Black with a nearly identically drawn face on it, the Marc Jacobs shirt basically exchanges Nirvana’s dead eyed ‘X’s with an ‘M’ and a ‘J’ and calls it a day.

Lawyers for Marc Jacobs have now responded, arguing that Nirvana, L.L.C. is not the legitimate owner of the “Happy Face” logo copyright registration, and that the registration is invalid.

They’re requesting the entire lawsuit be dismissed because “there is no extrinsic similarity” between Jacobs’ collection and the Nirvana copyrighted art.

The band’s original copyright for the logo is referred to as  “the ’166 Registration,” a registration that Jacobs’ attorneys argue is not what they’ve reproduced.

“The ’166 Registration includes the word “Nirvana.” The Accused Products do not. The ’166 Registration includes the Flower Sniffin Writing. The Accused Products do not. The ‘166 Registration includes a smiley face with Xs as eyes. The Accused Products do not; they use a different letter for each eye, the letters M and J, signifying Marc Jacobs.

The only similarity between what is covered by the ’166 Registration and the artwork contained on the Accused Products that can be gleaned from the Complaint is the use of a substantially circular outline for the smiley face and a squiggly line used for a mouth, with a tongue sticking out.”

Jacobs also argues that Courtney Love and Francis Bean Cobain were well aware of the collection, and even helped celebrate its release.

“The release of the Redux Grunge Collection was met with much fanfare in the fashion press, and fashion insiders rushed to buy the coveted looks that had not been available for 25 years. As friends of the brand, Ms. [Courtney] Love and Ms. [Frances Bean] Cobain helped celebrate the release of the collection.

Each woman was gifted designs from the collection. Ms. Love was invited to perform at the launch event for the collection in Los Angeles. 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!”

Do you think Marc Jacobs is ripping off this iconic Nirvana logo? Sound off in the comments below!

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Written by Whitney Shoemaker

Whitney is your definition of pop punk trash. If she's not jamming to State Champs or Grayscale, then she's probably out enjoying the finer things or working a show for Fearless Records as a Street Team Leader. She's a realist and an optimist, calling the city of Columbus her home. A huge fan of naps, Whitney often falls asleep in a city that doesn't. She's not hard to please, finding joy in discovering new bands or playing Everlong on the late night radio. Working at Alt Press and breaking ground in the music scene have always been a dream of hers, telling herself at an early age she was down for losing it all to make that happen! Now the weekend writer at AP, Whitney is prepared to be noticed and eager to contribute to the scene. If you catch her at a concert feel free to stick around, make small talk, or discuss her overuse of State Champs lyrics and song titles in her bio.