Interesting reading from www.freshjive.com
The Stussy Corporation has filed suit in a California federal court against the Freshjive company, claiming that Freshjive infringed one of their trademarked logos.
A group of t-shirt graphics I designed for the Spring 2005 season parodies various familiar corporate logos. The group is called, "The Mad Parody Series". The concept was to parody familiar logos of corporate clothing companies within a similar genre of customers as Freshjive, to allude to the mundane similarities of clothing within this genre, the commercial artistic restrictions of even being in such a genre, even to allude to the customers of this genre of clothing as being "sheep" and buying into the fantasy of the image associated with corporate logos, and specifically clothing companies (and the Freshjive mark is no exception). This is not a case of trying to gain commercially off of another logo, but to make a defiant social and cultural statement about the ludicrous nature of our commercial consumer culture. And I see this present legal situation as another opportunity to hopefully propel this very statement into the public eye.
One of the graphics was a parody of a Stussy logo. In the lawsuit filed, Stussy claims the following (bear in mind that at the time of this lawsuit being filed, there was no product out in the marketplace yet):1) The sale of our parody goods will or has caused a loss of sales of Stussy's genuine products and will result in the loss of future sales to customers because of our inferior reputation and inferior products.2) We copied other trademarks as an excuse for copying of Stussy's mark.3) The promotion, sale, and distribution is likely to cause confusion in the marketplace and that we are set on deceiving purchasers into believing the particular style is actually part of Stussy.4) Stussy has suffered loss of profits and other damages as a result.5) That Freshjive has and will make false representations regarding its goods and the connection of such goods to Stussy.6) That this merchandise will cause Stussy and THE PUBLIC to suffer great and irreparable damage and injury.7) That Freshjive has been guilty of oppression, fraud, and malice in that its conduct was intended to cause injury to Stussy, is DESPICABLE, and was carried on with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights of Stussy and THE PUBLIC.
We strongly believe that Stussy’s claims will be defeated. Stussy mistakenly seems to believe that a trademark owner can in general bar anybody else from using its trademark in every circumstance. But to show trademark infringement, Stussy will have to prove that Freshjive has used a Stussy logo in a way that is “likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive.” In other words, Stussy has to prove that customers buying the “Mad Parody” products will believe they are Stussy products, not FreshJive products. Many cases find that parody products do not create confusion because the consumers know that the products are a parody – that is, that the products are making fun of another company, not sold by that other company.
Parodies are traditionally known to have social and political significance. There is a free speech issue at the helm of this situation as well.
According to the dictionary meaning, a parody is an artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or work for comic effect or ridicule: a spoof. A changing of words to give farcical and ironic meaning.
And ironic it is that a company that has a long historical existence of parodying other corporate logos including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, the KISS logo and many others, should be challenging our right to parody them. (See the included links
to see various examples).
It is common for a trademark owner to legally protect their mark when they believe it is being infringed. Many times in these types of situations, the claimed infringer will accept an agreement whether they believe an infringement has been made or not, in order to avoid costly litigation fees. In fact a tactic used by a company that is claiming trademark infringement is to cause the opposite party to spend money on legal fees, or use scare tactics in which they threaten the claimed infringer with heavy attorney fees and damage fees if a claim is rendered in favor of the opposing party (and it is never "if" to them but "when").
But the rights of our parody graphic is clearly protected under United States law, and I feel that the Stussy Corporation is being unjust. We look forward to presenting our case in a court of law.
Finally, the originator of the Stussy company, Shawn Stussy himself was given the original sample shirt through a close friend of both of ours. He too thought it was ridiculous that the suit was filed. My friend took a photo of him wearing the shirt, and he has let us post it here on our website in support for the art of parody.
To be continued.RICK KLOTZ