Nirvana’s copyright lawsuit against fashion designer Marc Jacobs has seen an interesting new development with a California-based graphic artist claiming he actually created Nirvana’s smiley face logo at the center of the legal battle.
According to Billboard, “Robert Fisher, a freelance graphic designer based in Woodland Hills, filed a motion Sept. 13 to intervene in the ongoing federal litigation in the U.S. California Central District claiming to be the rightful creator and owner of the copyright design.”
Cobain has been credited with creating the logo, but Fisher refutes this in detail. In the motion filed by Fisher, he said he was working at Geffen Records before Nirvana was signed. He was a fan of the band and requested if he could work with the band on the upcoming design of their new album, Nevermind. He said he not only worked with the band to come up with the iconic album art for Nevermind, but he was “…Nirvana’s go-to person for almost all of its graphic design needs.” Fisher also claims to have had a working relationship with the band after the band dissolved following Cobain’s untimely death and after moving on from working at Geffen Records.
Fisher details the various techniques he used to come up with the logo, which he claims came to be after being asked “…to come up with more retail-friendly merchandise.”
Inge De Bruyn, Fisher lawyer, told Billboard in a statement, “The rule in copyright is that the individual creator of a work is to be considered its author and original owner. That really is the basic premise…And the situation is such that if Robert does not assert his rights now, he risks losing them forever.”
Nirvana LLC originally filed suit against Jacobs in December 2018. The lawsuit itself stems from Jacobs’ alleged unauthorized use of the Nirvana happy face logo in his “Redux Grunge Collection.”
In November 2019, Billboard reported the lawsuit would move forward per a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Kronstadt. Shortly thereafter, Jacobs and fellow defendants Saks Incorporated and Neiman Marcus tried to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Attorneys for Jacobs argued that the case should be thrown out of court because the copyrighted Nirvana logo, “…includes the word ‘Nirvana’. The Accused Products do not. The [copyrighted logo] includes the Flower Sniffin Writing. The Accused Products do not. The [copyrighted logo] includes a smiley face with Xs as eyes. The Accused Products do not; they use a different letter for each eye, the letters M and J, signifying Marc Jacobs.”
Photos of the Nirvana happy face logo and the Jacobs version can be seen below.