Lawyers for fashion designer Marc Jacobs have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit made against him by the estate of the band Nirvana, which accuses him of copyright infringement.
The designer’s collection features a cartoon “smiley face” similar to the one used by Nirvana as their logo, along with the word “Heaven” printed in the distinctive typeface used by the band. The lawsuit argues that Jacobs intentionally used “Nirvana’s copyrighted image on and to promote its products” in an “oppressive, fraudulent and malicious” manner. It seeks damages and for the clothes to be removed from sale.
Jacobs admits the designs were “inspired by vintage Nirvana concert T-shirts from the 1990s”, but argues that Jacobs “reinterpreted the design to incorporate [a Marc Jacobs] branding element into an otherwise commonplace image”.
The motion centres on a technicality: while Nirvana do own copyright to similar artwork, it is for an entire T-shirt design with a smiley face, the word Nirvana, and the words “flower sniffin kitty pettin baby kissin corporate rock whores” written on the back. By replacing the smiley face’s crosses for eyes with the letters M and J, and the word Nirvana with Heaven, Jacobs’ motion argues that the design therefore does not infringe copyright as it is not an exact replica of the copyrighted Nirvana design.
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