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Nirvana’s lawsuit against Marc Jacobs given the green light

The two t-shirt designs

Nirvana have been given the green light to proceed with their lawsuit against US fashion designer Marc Jacobs.

Lawyers representing the band filed the lawsuit late last year, claiming that Jacobs took the band’s famous ‘smiley face’ logo and used it in his Bootleg Redux Grunge collection for a t-shirt which featured the word ‘heaven’ above it in a similar font to Nirvana’s logo.

Jacobs' lawyers requested a dismissal of the lawsuit in March this year, with his legal reps arguing that Nirvana were not legitimate owners of the logo copyright registration, and that, as a result, Jacobs' collection didn't infringe any copyright.

However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, US District Judge John A. Kronstadt has dismissed Jacobs' motion, adding that the only “discernible difference” between the two faces is the use of the letters ‘M’ and ‘J’ where the Xs for eyes were in the original graphic.

Kronstadt added: “It is also noteworthy that the Accused Products have combined this protectable artwork with other distinctive elements of the Nirvana t-shirt, including the use of yellow lines on black background and a similar type and placement for the text above the image on the clothing.”

Jacobs originally pointed out that the word 'Nirvana' was omitted from his design, that the 'Flower Sniffin' writing hadn't been used, that his face didn’t use Xs for eyes – although he admitted similarities between the “squiggly line for a mouth with a tongue protruding therefrom” and “a roughly circular facial outline.”

 Jacobs maintains he simply "reinterpreted" the original design.

Last month, the olive green cardigan Kurt Cobain wore for Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged sold at auction for $334,000.

Scott Munro

Scott looks after Louder’s online buyer’s guides and also scouts out the best deals for music fans from every corner of the internet. He's spent more than 25 years in newspapers and magazines and in 2014 joined our news desk, where he wrote extensively about rock, metal, prog and more. Scott has previous written for the Daily Record, Sunday Mirror, The Herald and IGN.