According to Billboard, Marc Jacobs has responded to NIRVANA's lawsuit over a design featured in the brand's "Redux Grunge" collection, saying the band doesn't own the copyright and there are pronounced differences between the designs. The collection celebrates the cultural significance of the clothing that went on to become a badge of cool in a cultural era presided over by Kurt Cobain. Included in the collection are socks, shirts and sweaters.
Last December, NIRVANA filed a lawsuit centering on a design featuring a squiggly yellow smiley face, which is very similar to the trademark owned by the band since 1992. The Marc Jacobs version features an M and a J instead of Xs for its eyes (as in the NIRVANA version), and it reads "HEAVEN" instead of "NIRVANA" in a typeface similar to the band's font.
In documents filed Friday in a California federal court and obtained by Billboard, the designer's lawyers argue NIRVANA does not own the copyright to the smiley face design, that the registration is invalid and, further, that there are pronounced differences between the material covered by NIRVANA's registration and the artwork used by Marc Jacobs.
"The Complaint stems from the false premise that the Plaintiff owns a U.S. copyright registration on a smiley face design (albeit a different one than the one found on the Accused Products), when in fact, that smiley face is merely a fraction of the full artwork covered by the registration and the remainder of the covered artwork is not alleged to have been used on the Accused Products," the motion reads. "For the reasons stated herein, the Complaint should be dismissed for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted with regard to each cause of action."
The exact origin and meaning of the iconic NIRVANA "smiley face" logo with its crossed-out eyes and its drooling mouth are unclear, but most people believe it was drawn by Cobain and made its first appearance on a flyer for the release party for his band's "Nevermind" album in September 1991.
Kurt Cobain took his own life at his house in Seattle on April 5, 1994 at the age of 27.
The 20th anniversary of his death led to a resurgence of interest in its circumstances, which was heightened by the release of never-before-seen photos from the scene.
The anniversary fell just a few days before NIRVANA was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The surviving members of the band gave a four-song performance at the ceremony, with Joan Jett, SONIC YOUTH's Kim Gordon, Lorde and St. Vincent singing in place of Cobain.