Art director

Nirvana Company returns to LA art director for smiley face design

The company that controls Nirvana’s copyright has hit back at an Los Angeles art director who claims in federal court he designed a smiley face logo that the grunge band has used on merchandise for 30 years, according to reports. court documents obtained on Tuesday.

Robert Fisher, former artistic director of Geffen/UMG Records, is an intervenor in a 2018 lawsuit in which Nirvana LLC is suing fashion designer Marc Jacobs for allegedly copying the happy face onto clothing from a collection called Bootleg Redux Grunge.

In a counterclaim, lawyers for Nirvana argue that the group company owns full ownership of the image and argue that the line drawing of a happy face with a crooked smile and Xs for eyes was created by the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in 1991 and registered for copyright two. years later.

Fisher, 60, of Woodland Hills, filed interim documents in the Jacobs lawsuit three years ago, alleging he created the design in favor of Nirvana management and owned a copyright in under an “implied license” he had granted to the group.

Nirvana’s attorneys responded in documents filed Monday that “in the 30 years since the design was created and Nirvana has exploited it, Fisher has never claimed any interest in it.”

Fisher did not immediately respond to a message sent by City News Service.

The design has been used on dozens of different Nirvana t-shirts, shirts, hats, hoodies, bags, backpacks, eyewear, wallets and other merchandise.

At Geffen, Fisher worked regularly with Nirvana for several years and, after Cobain’s suicide in 1994, worked intermittently as a graphic designer on various Nirvana-related projects. He alleges that he terminated the implied license a year ago and that any further use of the logo infringes his copyright of the smiley.

Nirvana – which denies ever having had any license from Fisher – alleges that while the art director had a role in creating the design, the work took place within the scope of his employment at Geffen, “and therefore straight The author’s interest in such a work would have belonged in the first place” to the label.

As a result of its filing, Nirvana is asking a federal judge to find that Nirvana owns a valid copyright in the happy face design and logo, and that Fisher owns no part in the design rights.

Nirvana LLC – made up of former band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, and the Cobain estate (represented by his widow Courtney Love and their daughter Frances Bean Cobain) – was formed in 1997 to manage the affairs of the band after the death by Coban.

A trial date in the Jacobs copyright case has not been set.