North Face vs. South Butt

I don’t make a habit of posting my newspaper articles here – but this one has received more than normal attention on my own blog, so thought it might be worthwhile posting it here as well. Its on my blog, and on Canoe

I can’t post it here in full for contractual reasons – but the gist is that a 19 year old student has been sued by the North Face clothing company over his South Butt clothes that mock North Face fleece jackets worn by the popular crowd at his school.

In response to North Face’s tagline, “Never stop exploring”, South Butt adopted “Never stop relaxing.”

The defense itself is quite amusing – athough I understand that the court was not thrilled with that approach. The claim is here.

Unless it is settled, the case will ultimately be decided on the technicalities of U.S. trademark law.

Since one legal test of trademark infringement is customer confusion, you be the judge: Are the marks confusing enough that customers might think products bearing them are from the same source?


  1. Seems like a great waste of corporate energy, to me. Unless the kid is churning out tens of thousands of items, I can’t see how the game would be worth the candle for North Face, to say nothing of their lack of a sense of humour. I think it tends to make more sense to embrace the “enemy” whenever possible, rather than to go into battle: build an ad campaign around him and his highschool; hire him as a product developer; buy the guy’s business.

    Besides, every time I see their logo I think of the RSS feed icon. Of course, that’s just a professional deformation.