Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Butts About It


Tired of the ubiquitous The North Face logo staring back at you from someone’s shoulder in line at Costco? Is the brand becoming, well, a little too popular on the subway or among non-climbing, non-outdoorsy pretzel vendors on Fifth Avenue? Well, just to knock the mighty TNF down a notch is a look-alike brand called The South Butt with a line of t-shirts, fleece jackets, shorts and hats.

TNF is none too pleased. Recently, The North Face Apparel Corp. issued holiday greetings to The South Butt, LLC by filing a federal lawsuit in St. Louis seeking to enjoin The South Butt from continuing to market and sell its parody apparel product line.

The suit, filed on December 10, 2009 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, also seeks damages from The South Butt, its founder, college freshman Jimmy Winkelmann, and a local St. Louis pharmacy through which on-site retail sales of The South Butt apparel are made.

The South Butt, a small St. Louis-based company, was started by 18-year-old Jimmy Winkelmann, to help his parents pay his college tuition at a state college. It puts out parody products which serve to effectively spoof North Face, employing the tag line, “Never Stop Relaxing” in contrast to the North Face line, “Never Stop Exploring.”

“The South Butt has previously made it clear to the North Face that the consuming public is insightful enough to know the difference between a face and a butt,” said Albert S. Watkins, legal counsel for The South Butt and Jimmy Winkelmann. “In every sense, The South Butt is prepared to assume the proverbial position and take everything that North Face thrusts at it,” added Watkins.

The skirmish between the two companies has garnered international media attention and has effectively been characterized as a contemporary Samson versus Goliath showdown.

The South Butt has initiated a tongue in cheek (pun intended) Internet challenge to hone the skills of the public in discerning the difference between a face and a butt. See it at: http://apps.facebook.com/south-butt-challenge/

Wary of TNF’s legal eagles, the South Butt folks offer this Web site disclaimer, “We are not in any fashion related to nor do we want to be confused with The North Face Apparel Corp. or its products sold under ‘The North Face’ brand. If you are unable to discern the difference between a face and a butt, we encourage you to buy North Face products.” (For more information: www.thesouthbutt.com)

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