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Marc Jacobs and Nirvana settle smiley face logo lawsuit

After six years of legal battles over the iconic Nirvana logo, lawyers for both brands have finally put an end to the case.

Marc Jacobs and Nirvana settle smiley face logo lawsuit

Marc Jacobs and Nirvana have decided to end their legal battle over one of pop culture’s most recognisable icons: the smiley face logo. The ruling marks the closing of a controversial chapter that merged the worlds of grunge and high fashion. In a notice filed in federal court in Los Angeles on Tuesday, lawyers for both entities said they had agreed to a proposal to end the case, though the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The dispute began in December 2018, when Nirvana LLC, the company that manages the band’s legacy, filed a lawsuit against designer Marc Jacobs. The dispute arose over the inclusion of a smiley face in Jacobs’ “Bootleg Redux Grunge” collection, which Nirvana claimed was a blatant copy of the design Kurt Cobain had created in 1991. Nirvana’s signature logo has become an unmistakable emblem of grunge and an integral part of the band’s identity.

“Marc Jacobs’ use of Nirvana’s copyrighted image and to promote its products is intentional and is an integral part of a broader campaign to associate the entire ‘Bootleg Redux Grunge’ collection with Nirvana.” Shortly after the complaint was filed, artist Robert Fisher claimed he was the creator and owner of the design, a claim Nirvana’s lawyers called “factually and legally unfounded”. Marc Jacobs argued that the copyright claim was invalid because Nirvana could not verify the creator of the logo.

The band’s lawyers stood by their original claim that the late Kurt Cobain created the iconography. In the event that Fisher created the logo, Nirvana’s legal team believed it would have happened while he was working as an art director at Geffen, making it the property of the label. Judge Kronstadt sided with Nirvana on those claims and later denied Fisher’s request to appeal the ruling. After years of litigation, the two sides have reached a resolution that allows both entities to look forward without the shadow of a protracted trial.

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