In December of last year, the '90's grunge band Nirvana sued luxury fashion label Marc Jacobs for allegedly violating copyright laws and using their trademark smiley face logo without permission. The suit, which was formerly lodged against Marc Jacobs International L.L.C. and others, challenges the happy face used in Marc Jacobs' "Redux Grunge Collection." However, lawyers for the designer have disputed Nirvana's claims, filing a motion for dismissal in California federal court, per The Blast.
In the documents compiled, lawyers for Jacobs explain that the designer's relationship with the grunge scene can be traced back as early as the 1990's. Jacobs' trailblazing collection "Grunge," which he designed for Perry Ellis in 1992, sent shockwaves across the fashion industry, and not in a good way. Despite the negative reception at the time, his final collection as Creative Director for Perry Ellis is now considered to be historic. Given the aesthetic resemblance to both the genre Nirvana inhabitated as well as the smiley face, the confusion regarding ownership is not surprising.
Throughout the court document, Jacobs' lawyers explain the relationship the designer developed with Kurt Cobain's widow Courtney Love over the years, asserting that she has appeared in the brand's ad campaigns and her style was one of the inspirations behind the 1992 collection. Although she and Cobain reportedly burned t-shirts from Jacobs' infamous collection, Jacobs developed a relationship with Love in the years following the runway debut.
"In 1994 Marc Jacobs met Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain (then two years old), the daughter of Ms. Love and the then-late Mr. Cobain, beginning a personal and professional relationship with both women that endures to this day," the filing reads.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of his groundbreaking collection, Jacobs released 26 of the original looks, and rebranded it as the "Redux Grunge Collection." Although the document acknowledges that Jacobs drew inspiration from vintage Nirvana t-shirts, the designer altered the design to incorporate his own branding into an "otherwise commonplace image."
In the original filing in December, Nirvana L.L.C. claimed that Jacobs' use of the word "grunge" wouldn't exist without the band, given they founded the genre. However, according to Pitchfork, Jacobs' lawyers argued that Nirvana, L.L.C., a company which Love is a part of, is not the rightful owner of the "happy face" logo and thus they're arguing that the suit should be thrown out. The lawsuit is ongoing.