Futurelight The North Face poster with logos and person standing in rain  lawsuit
Outside Business Journal

The North Face Sunsets FutureLight Logo Following Legal Dispute

The artist Futura had filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the brand earlier this year because he says the apparel technology’s logo resembled one of his atom designs

Futurelight The North Face poster with logos and person standing in rain  lawsuit
Eric Smith

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The North Face on Friday announced it will discontinue the logo the brand had used for its FutureLight apparel technology after an artist named Futura filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the company earlier this year.

Futura, whose name is Leonard McGurr, posted a statement about the matter to Instagram on June 21, outlining his legal claim against The North Face and how the brand reacted in its legal response.

The basis of Futura’s lawsuit is that The North Face traded off his name and his brand, and infringed on his “signature atomic element” with the logo it has been using for FutureLight since October 2019.

“In a recent court filing, they [The North Face] reduced my entire career to nothing more than a ‘…self-described street artist who sometimes uses an atom motif in his artwork,’” Futura wrote in the post. “They also claim that because I sometimes paint different versions of my atom, I have no legal IP protection or rights. If they succeed with that argument, many of us could no longer have protection for our artistic reinterpretations of our logos and brands, which is a foundational element of streetwear.”

The Denver-based brand, which is owned by VF Corporation, posted a statement about the matter on its website

On the page, titled “Our Deep Respect for Artists,” The North Face said the logo’s similarity to Futura’s creation was coincidental and the result of trying to honor an element of the brand’s history, not an attempt to steal anyone’s intellectual property.

“The North Face, as well as VF Corporation and its family of brands, are home to and partners of many incredibly talented artists,” the company said. “We have great respect for artistic individuality, expression, and intellectual property, and would never want an artist to feel otherwise. This includes the recent unfortunate situation involving Futura, an artist we hold in high esteem.

“Our FutureLight apparel technology launched October 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. Any resemblance to Futura’s signature atomic element design was entirely coincidental and not part of our internal design team’s inspiration.”

Despite this, The North face will be backing away from the original logo: “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.”

The North Face concluded its statement by saying it has “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.”