Marc Jacobs International ongoing legal battle with Nirvana over the copyright infringement of the smiley face image continues on. Marc Jacobs’ lawyers have called for a summary judgement in the case, meaning a judge will make a decision before it even goes to trial.
The specific image in question is the famous Nirvana smiley face with Xs for eyes and a smile with a tongue sticking out. The image is often featured on Nirvana merchandise, and while the association with Nirvana is always immediate, the image was never registered property as a copyright for Nirvana. This left it open for other companies and brands to use.
One of the big issues addresses in the case, which the Nirvana estate is claiming, is that Kurt Cobain designed the logo, therefore they have the intellectual property rights. However, the logo was actually designed by art director Robert Fisher, according to Marc Jacobs lawyers, and he never transferred the intellectual property rights to Nirvana or any other party.
Fisher worked for Geffen Records, which was Nirvana’s label, and while he submitted testimony detailing his process in creating the logo, Marc Jacobs’ legal team argued that it’s not similar enough to the interpretation of the smiley face the designer used on his merchandise since the eyes were changed to Marc Jacobs’ initials instead.
One of Nirvana’s lawyers rejected these arguments and said they will continue pursuing this legally. The lawsuit dates back to December 2018 when Nirvana sued Marc Jacobs for the similar logo saying Cobain created the logo in 1991. Marc Jacobs legal team began tanking these arguments when founding members of Nirvana claimed that this image had been around and they didn’t know who made it.
It’s very possible this could be settled out of court before it goes to trial. Marc Jacobs did admit that his design was Nirvana inspired.
photos: via marcjacobs.com