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Marc Jacobs Denies Ripping Off Nirvana Smiley Face

Marc Jacobs is standing by his smiley face. After being sued for copyright infringement by attorneys representing Nirvana, the fashion designer filed a response on Friday demanding the lawsuit be dismissed, as Pitchfork reports. Jacobs claims that the smiley face design featured on a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and pair of socks in his “Redux Grunge Collection,” released in November, does not infringe on the band’s own iconic (and copyrighted) smiley logo.

Jacobs does not hide the fact that he was obviously inspired by Nirvana. The collection in question celebrates the 25th anniversary of the designer’s 1993 Perry Ellis collection, which ushered grunge’s entry into high fashion, and which Jacobs personally sent to Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love at the time. The smiley logo featured on items in the new collection bears a similar squiggly mouth and stuck-out tongue as the Nirvana smiley, but swaps in the letters M and J for eyes, and includes the word “Heavenly” in a serif font that slightly differs from the band’s logo. “Marc Jacobs reinterpreted the design,” the response claims.

Jacobs helpfully includes a table for comparison:

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The filing also points out, toward whatever end, that Love and her daughter Frances Bean Cobain are fans of the anniversary collection. Both of them liked images of smiley-featuring items on Jacobs’ Instagram, and Love commented, “Nice photo!Looks some what similar! Amazing!” The legal ramifications of these compliments are unclear. (Love is not part of the LLC that owns Nirvana’s intellectual property.)

Jacobs wants the entire case dismissed. You can read the full argument here.