Nirvana faces copyright lawsuit over logo used in ’90s t-shirt

Nirvana faces a copyright infringement lawsuit for a t-shirt design released in the ’90s.

Jocelyn Susan Bundy is suing Nirvana LLC and several other companies for the t-shirt image. The costume says the t-shirt appropriates an image created by Bundy’s grandfather – CW Scott-Giles. The design has appeared on major Nirvana products like shirts, mugs, records and more.

The image is a map of the circles of hell as depicted in Dante Alighieri’s epic The Divine Comedy. Bundy’s lawsuit alleges that Nirvana and Live Nation used the image without permission and even claimed copyright ownership in it.

Bundy is officially lawsuit for the merchandise that was released in 1997, but the lawsuit claims the group has used the image illegally since 1989. “In documents filed in two other copyright actions in this court, the defendant Nirvana implied that Kurt Cobain created the illustration or, alternatively, that the illustration is in the public domain in the United States, ”the lawsuit read.

The lawsuit says Ms. Bundy discovered the Nirvana designs on January 20, 2021.

“Further research has revealed that some of the unauthorized uses of Illustration on Nirvana branded merchandise date back to 1989. Further research also revealed that over the years the Nirvana Group and parties acting on its behalf have regularly made false claims of ownership. copyright on the illustration by placing false copyright notices on infringing products in this form ‘© [Year] Nirvana.'”

“Nirvana and some of the other defendants have maintained this position in their responses to the plaintiff’s continuing demands to cease their wrongdoing in the United States and abroad,” the lawsuit continues. It seems strange that Mrs. Bundy just now discovered this Nirvana offense over 20 years ago.

Nirvana is no stranger to copyright battles. Over the past three years, the group has engaged in a legal battle with Marc Jacobs over his happy face t-shirt design. The Marc Jacobs design features a wavy yellow smiley face, similar to the group’s trademark owned since 1992.

The Marc Jacobs shirt features an M and J for the eyes instead of X and the word “HEAVEN” instead of “NIRVANA”. Interestingly, in trying to defend the brand of one of their most famous t-shirts, another is exposed as potential copyright infringement.

The lawsuit names Nirvana LLC, Live Nation Merchandise LLC, Merch Traffic LLC and Silva Artist Management LLC as defendants.


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Daniel Lange

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