Nirvana Sues Marc Jacobs Over Logo That Smells Like Copyright Infringement2 min read


Images via Nirvana (left) and Neiman Marcus (right)

Marc Jacobs’ new t-shirt could easily be mistaken for a collaborative piece with American rock band Nirvana, which is why the latter is suing the fashion retailer.

In recent court documents filed at the US District Court for the central district of California, Nirvana claims that Marc Jacobs has infringed on the copyright of its iconic smiley face logo.

In November 2018, Marc Jacobs released a ‘Redux Grunge’ collection containing its founder’s works with clothing brand Perry Ellis in 1993. A number of its pieces, including the US$115 t-shirt shown below, are emblazoned with a symbol alike Nirvana’s logo.

Further, Marc Jacobs apparently launched a campaign comprising references to Nirvana’s lyrics, such as a clip of Smells Like Teen Spirit. Jacobs was also shot in a t-shirt with the slogan, Come As You Are.

The nail on the coffin is the name of the t-shirt, which is labeled as ‘Bootleg Redux Grunge’ by luxury department store Neiman Marcus.

Nirvana defends that the “copyright-protected” emblem, which was designed by the late Kurt Cobain in 1991, has been in use since 1992 “to identify its music.” Due to the logo’s popularity, “a significant portion of the consuming public assumes that all goods or services that bear the logo are endorsed by or associated with Nirvana.”

The rock band argues that Marc Jacobs is being “oppressive, fraudulent, and malicious” with the rollout of these items, causing it “irreparable injuries” and possibly “diluting” the value of Nirvana’s existing and future clothing products.

Nirvana is asking for monetary damages, as well as injunctive relief, which means Marc Jacobs must cease all sales and marketing of the infringing products if the band’s case is approved.


Marc Jacobs’ ‘Bootleg Redux Grunge’ t-shirt. Images via Neiman Marcus


T-shirt from Nirvana’s official store. Image via Nirvana

[via The Fashion Law, images via various sources]