Graphic Designer Steps Up To Claim Ownership Of Nirvana’s Smiley Face Logo


This is the latest twist in the ongoing lawsuit between the group and Marc Jacobs

Posted on September 25, 2020

Nirvana’s iconic smiley face logo continues to cause all sorts of legal drama, with a graphic designer now claiming he is the rightful owner of the design, not Kurt Cobain.

The artist in question is a freelance Californian graphic designer named Robert Fisher, who filed a lawsuit on September 13 claiming he was the rightful owner and creator of the design, Billboard reports.

The move comes as Nirvana LLC faces ongoing federal litigation in the Central District of California in the United States with Marc Jacobs over the use of the logo – a legal war that has been raging since 2018.

According to Fisher’s legal representative, Inge De Bruyn, the artist recently learned that the band “wrongly attributed the artwork to Kurt Cobain.”

Talk to BillboardDe Bruyn explained, “He was also unaware that in 1993 Nirvana, Inc. had registered the copyright for the Happy Face t-shirt design, naming himself as the author. Robert always been a rather private person and not one to wear his accomplishments on his sleeve.

“That said, there is a clear line between people who speculate about the origins and authorship of his work and those who are wrongly attributed to someone else. Most creatives would object. Artists deserve proper credit for their work. Often that’s all they get.”

Explaining further, De Bruyn continued: “The rule of copyright is that the individual creator of a work should be considered its original author and owner. a very limited exception to this premise.

“As explained in the filings, we do not believe that under the law this exception applies here. And the situation is such that if Robert does not assert his rights now, he risks losing them forever. .”

Billboard reports that the publication viewed court documents that find Fisher saying he was working as an art director at Geffen Records when he asked if he could do design work on Nirvana It does not matter album. Fisher added that he has become “Nirvana’s go-to person for almost all of their graphic design needs.”

Fisher also claimed to have received a request to design a Nirvana t-shirt in 1991 when he “started playing with variations of the smiley faces he used to draw in his senior year at the Otis College, when acid culture was at its height.”

Nirvana’s attorneys, meanwhile, declared full ownership of the image, noting that it was “created by Kurt Cobain circa 1991 and registered for copyright in 1993.”

In response to the filing, Nirvana’s legal representative, Bert H. Deixler, told the Los Angeles Times that the allegations were “factually and legally baseless” and would be “vigorously” challenged.


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