The band claims Jacobs used the infamous “Happy Face” logo without permission, insinuating that all merchandise by the clothing label containing that logo was endorsed by the grunge icons.
The items in question come from Jacobs’ “Bootleg Redux Grunge” collection, which incorporates the smiley logo on several pieces, including a T-shirt, sweatshirt and a pair of socks. They replaced the classic “NIRVANA” at the top with “HEAVEN” in an insanely similar font. They also adjusted the eyes on the iconic logo, using a “M” and a “J” instead of the classic “X’s.”
Jacobs admitted that his design was “inspired by vintage Nirvana concert T-shirts from the 1990s.” The brand is claiming though that their design is unique enough because it was redesigned to include Jacobs’ classic logo of the “M” and “J.”
— david zweig (@davidzweig) March 14, 2019
Attorneys representing the clothing brand have claimed that Nirvana is not the authorized owner of the “Happy Face” logo copyright. They are also claiming that the registration is invalid.
Yesterday, U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt ruled that the suit can move forward, denying Jacobs’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit back in March. The California judge stated that the only detectable difference between the two logos is the style change in the eyes.
“Although the allegations as to Cobain’s 1991 creation of the Happy Face may suggest that he was the ‘author’ in who ‘title vests initially’… this does not preclude the possibility that Nirvana, Inc. later obtained the right to ownership,” said Judge Kronstadt in writing.
“The adequacy of Nirvana’s ‘chain of title’ is instead an issue to which Defendants may respond on its merits through discovery and subsequent proceedings.”
Judge Kronstadt also claimed that Jacobs’ design combined the “Happy face” with other distinctive components of the Nirvana T-shirt. This includes yellow lines on-top of a black background and a similar font and placement of text above the image.
Do you think Marc Jacobs ripped off Nirvana’s design? Let us know in the comments below!