It’s one of the most chuckle-inducing trademark claims in recent memory: The North Face Apparel Corp. has sued 19-year-old University of Missouri freshman James Winkelmann for trademark infringement and dilution. According to its motion filed in December in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, North Face says Winkelmann, a biomedical engineering student, has caused it “irreparable harm” by producing his parody clothing line, The South Butt (motto: “Never Stop Relaxing”).
Last week Winkelmann and his attorneys filed an irreverent reply brief, which is excerpted below, along with a motion to dismiss the suit. According to his filing — as well as his Web site and his attorney, Albert Watkins of St. Louis firm Kodner, Watkins, Muchnick, Weigley & Brison — Winkelmann started the clothing line as a joke. Winkelmann says he was inspired to do so after noticing that all his friends were buying North Face gear even though they weren’t mountaineers. He decided to poke fun at the idea by coming up with a “South Butt” logo; slapping it on T-shirts, jackets and sweatshirts; and selling the clothes via a Columbia, Mo., pharmacy and the Web.
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