Best Federal Lawsuit - 2010
The North Face v. The South Butt
Back in 2007 Chaminade student Jimmy Winkelmann set out to mock his classmates wrapped in North Face fleece by launching his own clothing line, "the South Butt." Yet the apparel giant wasn't quite so amused; last September, the company discovered Winkelmann had applied for a trademark. Threatened with legal action, the young man — then a Mizzou freshman — not only refused their cease-and-desist request; he then had the cojones to offer them his company for $1 million. Once the media latched onto the case, and Winkelmann's sales skyrocketed, he retracted his offer and decided to fight what had morphed into a David-vs.-Goliath federal lawsuit over trademark infringement. Winkelmann's lawyer, Albert S. Watkins, insisted the South Butt was no cheap knockoff, but rather a parody protected under the First Amendment and answered the complaint by parodying it. That tongue-in-cheek filing spread quickly online, and soon Watkins was fielding correspondence from intellectual-property attorneys around the globe, some of whom offered assistance pro bono. The parties settled their differences in mediation in April. They can't discuss the details, but the South Butt is still hawking its wares to this day. "The consuming public," Watkins maintains, "is insightful enough to know the difference between a face and a butt."