Nirvana Beats T-Shirt Copyright Lawsuit – Billboard

Nirvana defeated a lawsuit that claimed one of the band’s famous t-shirts was based on Dante’s copyrighted artwork Hell, but the litigation is likely to resurface in a British court.

On Thursday, October 21, a California federal judge dismissed the case against Nirvana and Live Nation’s merchandise unit, which centered on the group’s “Vestibule” shirt – an iconic design that features a “seven circles” design. ‘hell’ under the Name.

According to accuser Jocelyn Susan Bundy, this drawing was created by her grandfather in 1949 and remains under British copyright. She continued in April, claiming that she had only just learned of the existence of Nirvana’s shirt, which was first released in 1989.

But U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer dismissed the lawsuit Thursday, saying the case would be more suited to the British legal system than a Los Angeles courtroom.

“Since one of the main disputes in this case concerns the ownership of copyright in illustration, which is governed by UK law, the UK probably has a greater interest, overall, in this case, “wrote the judge.

More than 25 years after Kurt Cobain’s death, Nirvana products remain popular – and a source of litigation. The group is currently in protracted litigation against Marc Jacobs over the fashion designer’s use of a “smiley” logo similar to the one used on Nirvana t-shirts.

Bundy’s lawsuit, filed April 28, claimed the image on the “Hallway” t-shirt was “virtually identical” to his grandfather’s “Upper Hell”, which was published as an illustration in a 1949 translation. Dante’s Hell. She cited the widespread sale of the shirt and other merchandise.

“Defendants’ counterfeit products are (or have been) sold online and at retail, in the United States and internationally, including, but not limited to, major retailers such as H&M, Hot Topic and Walmart “she wrote at the time.

In addition to Nirvana LLC, the case also named Live Nation Merchandise LLC as a defendant. The group is replaced by Mark S. Lee of Rimon PC; Live Nation is replaced by Zia F. Modabber of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

Nirvana and Live Nation argued the case was “forum non conveniens” – a legal term for claiming that a case had been brought to an inappropriate court. On Thursday, Justice Fischer agreed with this argument, but only with certain stipulations. She said her decision would only become final if Nirvana agreed to litigate the case in the UK and a UK court agreed to hear it.

Together, these conditions mean that the case will likely continue in the UK if Bundy chooses to bring a new case. Inge De Bruyn, the lawyer representing Bundy, said Billboard Friday that “we are currently assessing all options, including filing the case in a UK court”.

Lawyers for Nirvana and Live Nation did not return requests for comment on Friday.

Elizabeth J. Harless