Marc Jacobs Says Nirvana Doesn’t Own Their Smiley Face Logo

An ongoing legal battle between the brand and the band continues

marc jacobs
Marc Jacobs and Nirvana are still fighting.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs

A lot has changed since 2018, but some things have stayed the same, like the ongoing legal battle between Nirvana and designer Marc Jacobs.

Two years ago, the band announced it was suing the designer for lifting Nirvana’s signature dead smiley face logo for the brand’s Bootleg Redux Grunge collection. Jacobs’ lawyers denied any similarities between the designs, while also claiming the designer had full support from both Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain, who received free pieces from the collection and an invitation to the collection’s LA launch party.

Flash forward two years, and while the legal battle rages on, the story has changed a bit. In September, a new character joined the cast in the form of artist and graphic designer Robert Fisher, who claimed he, in fact, was the one who came up with the contentious smiley face design in the first place.

“I don’t think it’s fair that they try and take out a copyright and say Kurt did it,” Fisher, who filed a motion to claim authorship of the design but is not seeking payment for its use, told the LA Times. “Since I drew it, I want to be known as the guy that drew it. It’s as simple as that.”

While Nirvana’s legal team called Fisher’s claim “factually and legally baseless,” Marc Jacobs’ has latched on. Lawyers for the designer now claim that since Kurt Cobain apparently didn’t design the smiley face, no infringement has taken place, WWD reported.

The case is postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19, and Jacobs’ legal team are now pushing for a summary judgement to be made before the case actually goes to trial. As Jacobs’ lawyers told a California federal court on Monday, “It is ironic how much trouble a smile can cause.”

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.