Come as you are – so long as you aren’t wearing a t-shirt that infringes my logo

Nirana’s lawsuit for copyright and trademark infringement against Marc Jacobs International LLC (and others) has been allowed to continue.  On November 8, 2019, a Federal Judge denied defendant’s motion to dismiss the claims, regarding Nirvana’s “smiley face” logo, created by Kurt Cobain in 1991.  Nirvana v Marc Jacobs

The Court conducted a review of defendant’s allegedly infringing t-shirt, having a yellow smiley face against a black background, with the letters M and J for eyes and a squiggled mouth with a stuck-out tongue substantially similar to Nirvana’s logo, holding that the only discernible difference is the use of “M” and “J” for eyes instead of the “X” eyes used in Nirvana’s design.  The Court rejected defendant’s arguments that Nirvana had failed to explain when Cobain had transferred his rights to the band; that the registration was invalid for failing to accurately list the first date of publication and that the logo only represented a portion of the registration, holding that Nirvana had sufficiently pled a valid copyright claim to avoid dismissal at the pleading stage.

Nirvana’s trademark claims also survived.  Go scary cheerleaders go.