North Face Files Federal Suit Against St. Louis Teenager and His "South Butt" Company


Remember Jimmy Winkelmann, the cheeky 19-year-old Chaminade High School grad whose North-Face-knockoff line of apparel -- The South Butt -- drew threats of a legal action in August, followed by international media coverage? Hilarious, yes?

The North Face apparel corporation isn't laughing. They filed suit last Thursday in Missouri's federal Eastern District to get Winkelmann to stop infringing on their trademark and product rights.

"While [South Butt] may try to legitimize their piracy under the banner of parody," the complaint reads, "their own conduct belies that claim."

Last August, when North Face found out that Winkelmann's tiny company had tried to register its own South Butt trademark, the outdoor clothing and gear giant threatened legal action. Winkelmann refused to stop hawking his wares, and instead offered to sell his company in September to The North Face for $1 million. Oh, the balls!

A couple weeks later, South Butt attempted yet again to register its trademark, and a media blitz began. The publicity caused a surge in sales for South Butt, and Winkelmann retracted his offer of sale.  

The North Face claims that South Butt's products are "causing confusion, mistake and deception among the general purchasing public."
Jimmy Winkelmann
  • Jimmy Winkelmann

In a rebuttal, eternal quote machine Al Watkins, legal counsel for Winkelmann and his company, insists that "The South Butt has previously made it clear to the North Face that the consuming public is insightful enough to know the difference between a face and a butt."

In fact, Jimmy Winkelmann himself is testing that very claim on Facebook: Click here for the "Face or Butt Challenge" quiz. (You need to be logged in, of course). 

"In every sense," Watkins adds, "The South Butt is prepared to assume the proverbial position and take everything that North Face thrusts at it," added Watkins.

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