US fashion brand Marc Jacob’s recent Redux Grunge collection features several items that closely resemble the Seattle band’s iconic black-and-yellow imagery, which are the subject of a lawsuit over copyright infringement.
Diluting value and misleading customers
Representatives for Nirvana, the influential grunge band which split in 1994 following the death of frontman Kurt Cobain, claim that Marc Jacobs’ unauthorised use of the smiley face symbol is intentionally almost identical to its copyright-protected design and logo. The case also refers to the use of Nirvana references in Marc Jacobs marketing materials and describes the luxury fashion label’s actions as “oppressive, fraudulent and malicious”, and “threaten to dilute the value of Nirvana’s licenses with its licensees for clothing products”. Department stores Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus are also included in the lawsuit for selling the items that allegedly infringe the band’s copyright. Nirvana are seeking monetary damages, the removal of sale of the items and the removal of band references from marketing materials because they feel the brand’s similar design will mislead customers.