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I've never watched such a David vs. Goliath battle in which David relished Goliath's attention so much...
If you're unfamiliar with Jimmy Winkelmann, the toothy-smiled college kid and founder of The North Face rip-off "The South Butt" Apparel Company—whose slogan is "Never Stop Relaxing"—he's the kid who was recently launched into national spotlight over logo-infringment and demfamation by the mega-golaith outdoor manufacturer, The North Face. The kid, who get's an A+ in public relations and Fight-Pick'n 101, has leveraged North Face's attention to gain national recognition and sympathy for his cheap cotton lifestyle appareal company that he claims helps pay his college tuition.
As a PR guy, I actually feel bad for The North Face; their choices aren't great. They can a) let their logo and brand get shit on and allow this company to thrive while encouraging other rip-off brands; or b) send a cease and desist and look like a bully for going after "the little guy." For TNF, it's a lose-lose from every direction. But for the rest of us, it sure is fun to watch in the peanut gallery...
(distored facebook application making fun of Faces vs. Butts, sponsored by little Jimmy)
As reported in The B.O.S.S. Report:
The North Face Sues The South Butt Over Parody...
The North Face filed a lawsuit against the teenage owner of The South Butt, claiming that the St. Louis-area parody company is infringing on the established apparel-maker's trademark and products. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in St. Louis, seeks unspecified damages and asks that South Butt's 19-year-old founder, Jimmy Winkelmann Jr., be prohibited from marketing and selling spoof T-shirts, fleece jackets and sweatshirts on its site.
Winkelmann created The South Butt two years ago and began selling the product through Williams Pharmacy, which owns four drug stores in the St. Louis area. The brand features fleeces, T-shirts and other apparel adorned with a square white on red logo that is very similar to TNF's iconic logo. The South Butt uses the tagline "Never Stop Relaxing" in a parody of TNF's "Never Stop Exploring."
According to the complaint, TNF claims that South Butt's products are "causing confusion, mistake and deception among the general purchasing public." In its lawsuit, TNF alleges James Winkelmann Jr., Williams Pharmacy and The South Butt LLC infringed on its patent with their parody product.
"While [South Butt] may try to legitimize their piracy under the banner of parody, their own conduct belies that claim," North Face argues.
"Unfortunately, and inevitably, The North Face's success attracts opportunists seeking to pirate its famous trademarks for their inferior knockoffs," TNF counsel added. "The three defendants named here are merely the latest in a long line of such opportunists. They are marketing apparel that directly and unabashedly infringes and dilutes The North Face's famous trademarks and duplicates The North Face's trade dress in its iconic Denali jacket."
The company threatened legal action in August after learning of Winkelmann's e-commerce website. He refused, and in September offered to sell his company to The North Face for $1 million. Winkelmann has since withdrawn the offer and plans to expand the manufacture and sale of its line nationwide in the spring, the suit alleges. The company is soliciting additional retail locations and campus reps to represent the company on college campuses.
In a statement, The South Butt's attorney, Albert Watkins, says the company was started by Winkelmann to help pay for college. "The South Butt has previously made it clear to the North Face that the consuming public is insightful enough to know the difference between a face and a butt," he said