Mark Bello of InjuryBoard was right on with his commentary on The North Face and their lawsuit against a teenager from St. Louis, MO. For years we have been fed a menu of lies and propoganda about corporate America’s stance on lawsuits: that they are frivolous, that they are bad for consumers, that they hurt business, and that there should be fewer of them.
Unless you’re the corporate giant wanting to sue an 18-year old kid who came up with a parody idea to help him earn money for college. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The North Face vs The South Butt lawsuit.
For those who don’t know The North Face is a California-based company specializing in outerwear. An upper end The North Face jacket runs around $600. The South Butt is a clothing line started by Jimmy Winkelmann as "a way to poke fun at the norm, while making an affordable and quality product." A fleece jacket from The South Butt will cost $60. Despite relatively minor profit margins when compared to The North Face, Mr. Winkelmann and The South Butt still apparently plan to donate some of their products to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital and challenged The North Face to follow suit. Guess that’s not the type of "suit" Corporate America likes to talk about.
So, just so we’re clear. When injured Americans, ripped-off consumers, and average people want to sue multi-million dollar corporations, these lawsuits are bad, anti-American, hurt business, and should be blocked at all costs. But, when a multi-million dollar corporation has to deal with a little competition, or heaven forbid some humor, directed towards its product and the corporation’s sense of hubris, then the lawsuit is A-OK!
I’m not saying The North Face doesn’t have the right to sue, if in fact trademark laws were infringed, or if there is a legitimate basis for the claim. What I’m saying is that the hypocrisy should stop. It’s the same argument I made before about access to the courts. Don’t claim to despise litigation, then go ahead and sue the little guy just because you can.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.