I’ve been following the North Face/South Butt litigation here for a while.   The dispute began in December 2009, when The North Face Apparel Corp., makers of the popular winter and athletic fleece jackets, sued The South Butt LLC, for trademark infringement and dilution relating to the South Butt’s line of clothing.  University of Missouri college freshman Jimmy Winkelmann came up with the idea for THE SOUTH BUTT clothing in response to the ubiquity of THE NORTH FACE jackets at his high school.

As is often the case in litigation, this one ended in a settlement.  And, as is often the case in David versus Goliath cases such as this one, David (aka “Little Jimmy Winkelmann”) got a lot of free publicity simply by virtue of being sued.

From the Denver Post:

“[The South Butt’s] annual sales amounted to a few thousand dollars a year. But that was before The North Face sued him for trademark infringement in a St. Louis federal court late last year.  Winkelmann said he suddenly enjoyed sales as high as $100,000 in a single month, a boom he attributed to the butt-joke laced publicity that The North Face’s lawsuit generated.”

The terms of the settlement are, of course, confidential, but whatever those terms may have been, it hasn’t stopped Winkelmann from peddling his wares.  The South Butt website still offers an assortment of merchandise for sale, and, Winklelmann evidently spent his Spring Break hawking free South Butt t-shirts in Panama City, Florida.

In most cases, settlement often yields productive results and in a way that minimizes costs to all parties.  But in a case as entertaining as this, I have to agree with Jack Greiner when he says, in a somewhat disappointed tone, “This was kind of fun to watch.”

However, with a heated federal court battle behind him, the 19-year-old Winkelmann can finally get back to living according to his own maxim: “Never Stop Relaxing.”

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