The North Face Will Phase Out a Logo That the Street Artist Futura Said It Lifted Illegally From His Work

The company has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Futura, Rambo (2017). Courtesy of artnet Auctions.

The outdoor recreation company the North Face will phase out a logo that the street artist Futura says was taken from him.

The artist, who sued the company earlier this year for alleged copyright infringement, said it lifted the logo, a stylized atom design, from his work without permission for a line of waterproof outerwear released in late 2019 and dubbed Futurelight.

In an online post titled “Our Deep Respect for Artists,” the North Face wrote that while it is confident “there has been no infringement in this case, we are committed to supporting creative artists and their communities. As a sign of that commitment and a sincere gesture of goodwill, we will begin to phase out and discontinue the use of the Futurelight circular nanospinning logo design out of deep respect for Futura and his work.”

The company said the logo was conceived and designed by its internal creative team to represent the technology used to make its products, and said the image was inspired by the shape of the geodesic dome tent that has been its logo for decades.

“Any resemblance to Futura’s signature atomic element design was entirely coincidental and not part of our internal design team’s inspiration,” according to the statement.

Representatives for Futura did not immediately respond to Artnet News’s request for comment.

In an Instagram post last month, the artist wrote that he had not been aware of logo until friends asked if he had collaborated with the company on the clothing line, in part because of its name.

The logo for The North Face's FUTURELIGHT line.

The logo for The North Face’s FUTURELIGHT line.

He wrote that the logo looked “like a straight-up heist,” adding: “we assumed it was some kind of wild mistake. we reached out to TNF to try and connect. instead they hid behind lawyers, refused to talk, and effectively told us to get lost.”

In court filings, the artist said the company had reduced him to “nothing more than… a self-described street artist who sometimes uses an atom motif in his work,” adding that the brand threatened to make him responsible for its legal fees in an intimidation attempt he described as “reprehensible.”

“At this time, the brand has not pursued any legal fees or recoveries from Futura in conjunction with this lawsuit,” a representative for the company told Artnet News.

But the two sides appear to remain far apart. According to the company representative, the North Face has “worked to find amicable solutions to reconcile this matter outside of a court for nearly two years. Unfortunately, these conversations have not proven successful, but we remain hopeful that we can reach a place of mutual understanding and agreement.”

Over the course of his career, Futura, who made a name for himself as a graffiti artist New York, has lent his designs to corporate clients including Nike, Uniqlo, and Comme des Garçons. The artist even designed a custom jacket for the North Face in 2004.

Futura’s attorney, Jeff Gluck, told Artnet News that contrary to the North Face statement, the lawsuit is still active. He said the clothing company filed a legal motion a few days ago asking the court to declare that Futura has no trademark rights, a move he says could set a dangerous precedent for other artists if it is allowed.

“If The North Face wanted to be noble, they could assert a simple legal argument that they did not copy Futura, or that it wasn’t similar,” Gluck said. “Instead, they are arguing that Futura’s own mark is not entitled to any protection. Think about that.”
The attorney added that he has declarations from consumers who “actually went out and bought these products thinking they were from Futura.”

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