The North Face has publicly responded to the ongoing legal battle with legendary artist Futura, and while it denies claims of infringement, the brand stated it will move on from the logo it uses for its Futurelight apparel tech.
“Our Futurelight apparel technology launched Oct. 1, 2019, and its logo was conceived and designed by our internal creative team to represent the nanospinning technology used to make Futurelight products. The logo was also inspired by the shape of the geodesic dome tent, which has been a key icon of The North Face brand for nearly 50 years,” the company wrote in a statement titled “Our Deep Respect for Artists,” which is published on its website. “Any resemblance to Futura’s signature atomic element design was entirely coincidental and not part of our internal design team’s inspiration.”
It continued, “While The North Face 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.”
On Jan. 12, Futura — whose real name is Leonard McGurr — filed a complaint with a federal court in California for copyright infringement, alleging The North Face “inexplicably began using a copy of the atom design” as the Futurelight apparel and fabric technology logo without his consent in 2019. The atom design mentioned in the complaint is a signature element in the work of Futura, which the complaint said has been used for the past 50 years.
The North Face and its parent company, VF Corp., filed a motion on April 26 to dismiss McGurr’s complaint, stating his use of an atom design “are merely ornamental and fail to function as a trademark,” that his designs are “artwork, not source indicators,” and his “inconsistent use” and “lack of use” of the designs “undercuts the claim that the designs function as a trademark.”
A federal judge granted the dismissal on April 26.
Futura — who has collaborated The North Face in the past, as well as other industry giants including Nike and Vans — released a statement on June 21, which he shared on social media, expressing his frustrations with the ongoing legal battle. “We reached out to TNF to try to connect. Instead, they hid behind lawyers, refused to talk and effectively told us to get lost. So, we sued them,” the artist wrote. “Since then, they have done things that have caused me to fundamentally rethink what TNF is, and the values it claims to have as a brand and a company.”
To date, Futura’s post on Instagram has received 24,545 likes.
The North Face concluded its public statement by saying: “We have clarified the original intent behind our Futurelight logo with Futura and his legal representatives many times and 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.”