By Jennifer Farley

Cheeky South Butt Go To Court With North Face Over Logo

By Jennifer Farley

The South Butt is an American online clothing store selling hoodies, jackets, t-shirts and shorts. They’ve recently found themselves in hot water over their logo design and its likeness to another (and very well known) clothing store, The North Face. Trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition are the issues in the case which started last Wednesday.

image North Face Logo

The South Butt logo (left) and North Face logo. Easy to distinguish?

The South Butt store was set up by Jimmy Winkleman and targets “who don’t want to be part of a herd with The North Face logo emblazoned on their chest.” (quote from the Maneater)

In reference to the North Face’s complaint that the infringing trademarks are “likely to cause initial confusion, mistake and deception among consumers who are drawn to the infringing products believing they originate from, are associated with or are otherwise authorized by” The North Face, The South Butt have a disclaimer on their web site stating

We are not in any fashion related to nor do we want to be confused with The North Face Apparel Corp. or its products sold under “The North Face” brand. If you are unable to discern the difference between a face and a butt, we encourage you to buy North Face products.

Now there’s no excuse for getting the two mixed up. The hearing last week was to establish dates and deadlines for the case. It will be interesting to see what happens. You can read more about it on the South Butt web site news section and on the Maneater Website.

So what do you think about this?  Is the South Butt logo too much like the original North Face design? Will you be rooting for the little guy or do you think South Butt are making money on someone else’s coattails?

  • Dougal Matthews

    The site logo that you posted is perhaps different enough. However, on the clothes it looks very similar in some cases. Compare this and this for example.

    I can see that causing confusion – the low res pictures are ideal as they give you a better idea of what you might see at a glance.

  • Brandon

    “likely to cause initial confusion, mistake and deception among consumers who are drawn to the infringing products believing they originate from, are associated with or are otherwise authorized by The North Face”

    Really? That’s their weak argument? I own numerous North Face products from base layers, to outer wear, to backpacks and tents. There is absolutely, positively no way I would EVER confuse these two companies. I don’t see how anyone could… unless you were illiterate, blind, or just plain stupid. When I shop for North Face products I go to their website, or to Google and search for “North Face (insert product name here)”. Or it’s possible I go to their physical retail location or a retailer that I know carries the brand. How could one possible confuse ANY of those options?

    Do I think The South Butt is infringing on trademark… not really. Do I think they’re being hilarious and mocking North Face… absolutely. There are too many differences between the logos. I’ll be shocked if North Face wins this case.

  • George

    In this case, the fact that The South Butt is obviously a parody of The North Face will hold quite a bit of weight. The only damage to The North Face in this case is not brand confusion, but brand ridicule.

  • That logo is obviously a satirical version of the north face logo. However, the fact is they have a different name, and you can’t copyright a rotated version of a basic shape so TNF don’t stand a chance in court.

  • DH – CodeRenaissance

    It looks to me like South Butt was trying to parody the North Face logo. They font looks the same except not bolded. The logo-type is on three lines aligned against the logo on both. The only thing they changed is to flip the logo-icon to the opposite side and flip it to make it look like a butt, and yeah they cropped it a bit and took out a layer but the angles look the same.

    I think the similarity is absolutely intentional and I think think both the name and the logo were done as a parody. Parody is fine in a lot of areas of intellectual property but not in logos and trademarking because for the parody to work you have to create something that looks substantially like the other persons mark. I don’t know whether anyone would really confuse the two but I do think there’s enough of a similarity for them to win in court.

  • bar338

    I’ve actually known about this for quite a while now. I go to the University of Missouri and this company was created by a freshmen here on campus. Its interesting to see how quickly this has escalated to international news.

  • AdrianJMartin

    The North Face clothes sales will remain stable – but thanks to them, The South Butt’s sales will probably spike for a bit….

  • Quite an amusing parody really. As Adrian comments, the media coverage will certainly result in increased “The South Butt” sales. The two marks are incredibly similar in style and concept but the execution and obvious difference in the company name probably means that the court case will be rather a weak one if TNF’s argument is that the mark will “cause confusion”. If “The South Butt” are allowed to continue with the mark then it may spur others on to piggy-back on brands in such a fashion: healthy competition or blatant brand-bashing?

  • davidcroda

    I don’t understand why they care? Anyone who is purchasing clothes from the south butt clearly is NOT a fan of North Face clothing, or at least is not looking to buy from them on this purchase.

  • Anonymous

    It is funny,looks like a copy.

  • Daniel

    For all you saying that you don’t see anything wrong with this and why should TNF care… Trust me if it was your company, you would feel differently.

  • davidcroda

    If the clothes are exactly the same, with just the logo changed, then that is a totally different story. But just targetting people who don’t like your brand with a play on words, in my opinion, shouldn’t be copyright infringement

  • phatman

    Daniel is correct. If this were your business you would care. It’s the corporation’s responsibility to protect it’s logo.

    Furthermore, it’s not a matter of whether I would recognize the difference. It’s a matter of whether a casual observer would notice the difference.

    If you ever watch Leno’s Jay Walking or know people who believe the mass mailings about boycotting gasoline purchases for a day, it’s not hard to see why people may not distinguish between the two.

  • youknowit

    It’s too bad that this kid’s father, a Harvard grad i might add, didn’t give him better advice. This was a very bad idea and he’s going to find himself in quite a bit of trouble. I hope the judgement falls heavy on his father. With some luck the kid might get himself a show on MTV or something.

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