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Nirvana agrees to smiley face logo settlement

Legendary rock band Nirvana has reached a settlement of a lawsuit filed against fashion house Marc Jacobs over the use of their smiley face logo.

The copyright case began in 2018 when Nirvana sued Marc Jacobs after the fashion designer allegedly used the band’s iconic logo on a T-shirt released as part of their “Bootleg Redux Grunge”. However, there were slight differences between the two designs, with the item of clothing featuring an “M” and a “J” in place of the letter “X”. It also featured the word “Heaven” in place of Nirvana, albeit in a similar font.

In the original legal document, Nirvana described the Marc Jacobs design as “oppressive, deceptive, and malicious.” The complaint also said it caused “irreparable harm” and “threatened to dilute the value of Nirvana’s licenses with its apparel licensees.”

While Marc Jacobs has not denied intentional similarities in the two designs, he has argued that this is fair use because the creator of the Nirvana logo is unknown. In 2019, they stated, “The apparent absence of any living person with first-hand knowledge of the creation of the allegedly copyrighted work, coupled with numerous other deficiencies in the 166 registration that is the basis of Nirvana’s infringement claim, form the basis of the counterclaim asserted.”

In a twist of events, Robert Fisher, former artistic director of Geffen Records, has filed his own lawsuit, claiming that he designed the smiley face logo and that it is not the work of the late Kurt Cobain, as many assumed.

Fisher, who created the cover of the band’s breakthrough album Never mindafter filing a legal claim in 2020, he stated that he is “the go-to person for almost all of (Nirvana’s) graphic design needs.”

The designer later said in an interview with Los Angeles Times: “Because I drew it, I want to be known as the one who drew it. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think it’s fair that they try to rip off the copyright and say Kurt did it.”

Meanwhile, Fisher’s lawyer said: Notice board“For 30 years, Nirvana has profited enormously from Mr. Fisher’s work through the sale of a wide range of products. With the help of a team of lawyers and managers, Nirvana has been able to do this without any compensation to Mr. Fisher by falsely claiming authorship and ownership.”

Six years after the litigation began, on July 9, the three parties reached a settlement in a complicated copyright infringement lawsuit. At this stage, the details of the agreement have not yet been disclosed, but all parties have signed onto a “Mediator Proposal” presented by Judge Steve Kim. A formal settlement agreement is currently being developed and is expected to be finalized by the end of July.

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