News Column

Butt Face Founder Admits Contempt in Trademark Case

Oct. 16, 2012

Robert Patrick

The Ladue founder of two brands that parodied outdoor clothing and equipment maker The North Face has agreed that his most recent brand violated a 2010 settlement of a trademark infringement lawsuit involving the first.

In the consent judgment, Mizzou student Jimmy Winkelmann agreed to abandon the trademark application for "The Butt Face," his most recent clothing line, cease sales of the products, silence all associated Facebook and other social media promotions and even take down YouTube videos posted by Winkelmann relatives, according to testimony in U.S. District Court in St. Louis by lawyers on both sides Monday.

He also agreed to pay $65,000, although the amount owed drops by $1,000 for every month that he or his fellow defendants don't violate the settlement.

Winkelmann, of Ladue, who is now a 21-year-old biomedical engineering student at the University of Missouri, hatched the idea for a parody line of clothing in 2007 while a student at Chaminade College Prep. Until 2009, the line made modest sales at its only outlet -- the Ladue Pharmacy on Clayton Road.

But North Face eventually noticed, and sent a cease and desist letter that Winkelmann and his allies spun a "David vs. Goliath" story that drove sales.

The two sides settled in 2010, but within days Winkelmann's father, James Winkelmann, formed a company called Why Climb Mountains which, until recently, sold "The Butt Face" gear with the motto "Never Stop Smiling."

The North Face filed a contempt motion against the Winkelmanns and their company in August.

In an order filed last week, U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel said that The North Face would "easily meet" their burden to prove that the Winkelmanns violated the 2010 consent injunction. "It's time to stop smiling and start exploring a sensible resolution to this dispute," Sippel counseled.

As part of the settlement, both sides agreed not to comment on the case.

The website thebuttface.com was still in operation Monday. A "shop" link connected to olopshop.com, but no Butt Face apparel was on sale. Winkelmann also sells a Polo parody, OLOP by Lalph Roren, that features a horse riding a "preppie."



Source: (c)2012 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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