The pen is mightier than the sword. So said Edward Bulwer Lytton and, er, apparently the Hells Angels. Yep, the world’s most notorious motorcycle club, once known for their violent, nihilistic ways and general hell raising, are at it again. Filing trademark lawsuits, that is. This time rapper Young Jeezy has been served, with the Angels claiming that the symbol used on Jeezy’s clothing line ‘8732’ is too similar to their iconic Death Head logo and could cause confusion among comsumers. The Angels are seeking an undisclosed share of 8732′s profits and want production of the line of denim vests and hats to be halted immediately.
While you might think the Angels’ preferred method of solving disputes would involve baseball bats and chains, you’d be wrong. It’s not the first time the Hells Angels have filed a fashion lawsuit, infact, they’ve become so frequent Wigsandgowns reckon we might hire a few as interns.
Hells Angels v Alexander McQueen
Back in 2010 the HA filed a suit against Alexander McQueen for breach of trademark, after the fashion house featured motifs similar to its famous winged death head. Lawyers for the motorcycle gang listed four products from Lee McQueen’s final collection, created shortly before his suicide, of infringing their trademark. They named the £895 ‘Hells Angels’ jacquard box dress and a knuckle-duster ring in the complaint, in addition to a scarf and a handbag. Saks Fifth Avenue and e-tailer Zappos.com were also included in the lawsuit for selling the products. The lawyer representing Hells Angels claimed “This isn’t just about money, it’s about membership. If you’ve got one of these rings on, a member might get really upset that you’re an impostor.” McQueen wisely settled the case and agreed to remove all of the merchandise featuring the logo from sale on their website, stores and concessions and recalling any of the goods which have already been sold and destroying them.
Hells Angels V MTV & Rob Dryadic
In 2012 The Hells Angels filed a lawsuit against MTV and skateboarder turned reality TV ‘star’ Rob Drydrek’s ‘Young & Restless’ clothing label when the label designed and sold t-shirts that had what they claimed was ‘confusingly similar to the flaming skull logo’ without asking permission. MTV’s role? Broadcasting the ‘confusingly similar’ logo on the TV show “Fantasy Factory.” The biker gang claimed that the logo has great commercial value because of its “very widespread public recognition” which evoked “strong and immediate reactions whenever used.” This one also settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Hells Angels v Wildfox Couture & Amazon
This one happened in 2011 when this t-shirt (below) appeared on the Wildfox website under the description “Hells Angels Hippie Crewneck T”. (Yep, pretty sure the words ‘Hells Angels Hippie’ is an oxymoran.) Whether the HA were more upset about the use of their name in relation to hippies or the trademark infringement, we can’t be sure of, but either way, they filed a lawsuit. And you guessed it, this one also settled too. Because when Hells Angels tell you to stop doing something, you listen.
And it’s not just fashion companies that have felt the wrath of the Angels, both Disney and Toys r’ us have found themselves on the wrong side of the world’s most feared motorcycle gang when they attempted to cash in on the HA trademark. Even Disney, the world’s most notoriously litigious corporation were forced to concede victory and agreed not to pull the HA trademark from the movie ‘Hogs’. The case was subsequently voluntarily dismissed. Another legal victory for the Hells Angels.
So while you may think Louis Vuitton are the most vigilant protectors of trademarks in the fashion world, you may want to reconsider that opinion!