Why Graffiti Artist Futura Is Suing the The North Face

Renowned street artist Futura is taking The North Face and its parent VF Corp. to court over alleged copyright infringement.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in California Central District Court, Futura claims that the outdoor brand knocked off a stylized depiction of an atom that has appeared in his artwork for years. The allegedly infringing logo was spotted in the designs of The North Face’s “Futurelight” collection of waterproof apparel, footwear and accessories that, according to the suit, ended up in a $20 million ad campaign.

“If their logo weren’t enough to conjure ‘Futura’ in the mind of a consumer, [The North Face] called their new apparel line ‘Futurelight,'” read the filing. “In other words, the similarity of the graphic designs and the names is no coincidence: [The North Face] purposefully invoked [Futura] in order to suggest an association with him.”

Futura, Leonard McGurr, v. The North Face and VF Corp. 'Futurelight' logo
An exhibit from the case Leonard McGurr v. The North Face Apparel Corp., VF Corp. and DOES 1-10 inclusive.
CREDIT: U.S. District Court in the Central District of California

According to Futura, who was born Leonard Hilton McGurr, the Alameda, Calif.-based company did not seek permission before using the motif last year despite the two parties having worked together in the past. (He designed a custom jacket for The North Face back in 2004.) The New York-based artist has also previously collaborated with Nike, Uniqlo, Comme des Garçons and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, as well as sporting teams the New York Mets and New York Yankees.

Futura has urged the court to ask The North Face to recall and remove the products from its offerings, claiming that the continued use of the “Futurelight” logo “has injured and will continue to injure [Futura] by causing the public to be confused or mistaken into believing that [The North Face]’s goods were designed by or otherwise affiliated with” the artist. He is also seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

FN has reached out to Futura’s legal representative, Gluck Law Firm, for comment. The North Face told FN that it does not comment on ongoing litigation.

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