Trademark Infringement

Parody May Not Always Be a Winnable Defense

As teenager Jimmy Winkelmann discovered, a defense of clear parody may not be enough. He came up with the idea of marketing t-shirts under the name of “The South Butt” as a joke because of his classmate’s preference to wearing “The North Face” apparel. “The South Butt” logo is similar to “The North Face” but turned upside down with two ridges resembling butt cheeks. “The North Face” was not amused and sued for trademark infringement and dilution when Winkelmann tried to obtain federal trademark registration and then offered to sell his business for $1 million. While the terms of the settlement are confidential, “The South Butt” remains in business. Just another example why the proper insurance policy is a necessity in any business.