North Face Continues To File Questionable Legal Claims Against Parodies

from the again? dept

Remember outdoor clothing company The North Face’s ridiculously counterproductive war against The South Butt parody line of clothes? That involved a bogus lawsuit with a variety of twists and turns, eventually leading to a settlement. There was an epilogue, however, as the guy who had started The South Butt reformed as Butt Face. And, of course, all this did was make The North Face look silly and unable to take a joke.

It appears that the company has not developed a sense of humor yet. Jake Rome points us to a story of how The North Face has filed takedown notices to Flickr/Yahoo, because a guy had posted some photos of parody patches for “Hey Fuck Face.” You can see the main image here.

This photo was taken down, as were a few other photos, mostly of the patch attached to a gun. The fact that those images are up is because the user, “mr.smashy,” filed a counter notice and so far it appears that The North Face has chosen not to go the legal route.

Dear mr.smashy,

We have received a Notice of Infringement from The North
VF Outdoor, Inc. via the Yahoo! Copyright/IP Team and
have removed the following photo(s) from your photostream:

“Hey Fuck Face”:
“hey fuck face”:
“AR-15 A4 MWS”:
“Buttstock Mag Pouch”:

Subsequent Notices of Infringement filed against your
account will result in further action that may include
termination without warning.

mr.smashy notes that his counter notice claimed fair use, pointing out that the patch is a parody and that he’s not actually selling anything, so there’s no issue of commercial usage. He also sent the takedown to ChillingEffects (good move!). This really seems like yet another overzealous move by lawyers at the North Face misinterpreting the need to “protect” their trademark. Let the parodies live and people will love your brand. Go after them like this and it just turns people off completely.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: the north face

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Comments on “North Face Continues To File Questionable Legal Claims Against Parodies”

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jakerome (profile) says:


Thanks for picking up the story. The good news part of this story is that since Flickr reformed their take down process, fraudulent notices now only result in temporary removal of the images. Still a lot of misconceptions in the Flickr community that Flickr “must” immediately comply with a takedown notice, as if there are automatic penalties for inquiring with the subject first or evaluating the validity of the notice themselves.

But hey, one step at a time.

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