The Rise, Lawsuit, and Legacy of North Face’s Most Unexpected Competitor ‘South Butt’: A David vs. Goliath Story

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In the world of fashion, it’s not often that a small startup goes head-to-head with an industry giant, but that’s exactly what happened when a teenager named Jimmy Winkelmann founded South Butt. What started as a light-hearted parody of the outdoor apparel company North Face quickly turned into a legal battle that captivated the public’s attention. This article delves into the rise of South Butt, the ensuing lawsuit from North Face, the legal proceedings, and provides an update on where things stand today.

The Birth of South Butt:

In 2009, Jimmy Winkelmann, a high school student from Missouri, had a stroke of genius when he decided to create a clothing line called South Butt. Winkelmann, a self-proclaimed lover of outdoor activities, was inspired to create a brand that humorously flipped the script on North Face’s logo and mission. The South Butt logo featured a design similar to North Face’s recognizable logo but rotated 180 degrees. Winkelmann saw this as an opportunity to poke fun at the seriousness and high prices of North Face products.

The Lawsuit from North Face:

North Face, a well-established outdoor apparel company, wasn’t amused by Winkelmann’s playful parody. In December 2009, they filed a lawsuit against South Butt, accusing Winkelmann of trademark infringement and dilution. North Face claimed that South Butt’s logo, marketing strategies, and product offerings were causing confusion among consumers and damaging their brand image.

Legal Proceedings and Settlement:

The lawsuit garnered widespread media attention, turning South Butt into a symbol of David facing Goliath. While many speculated that Winkelmann would face an uphill battle in the courtroom, the legal proceedings took an unexpected turn. South Butt’s legal team argued that their parody was protected under the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and that there was no likelihood of confusion between the two brands.

In 2010, South Butt and North Face reached a settlement agreement, the terms of which remain confidential. However, it is known that Winkelmann agreed to cease operations and stop using the South Butt name and logo. While the settlement signaled a win for North Face, many admired Winkelmann’s tenacity and the attention he brought to the issue of corporate bullying.

Videos About South Butt:

The Original South Butt Commercial:

The Legacy of South Butt:

Although South Butt was short-lived, its story left a lasting impact on the fashion industry and intellectual property rights discussions. The case shed light on the fine line between parody and trademark infringement and sparked a broader conversation about the limits of protection for large corporate brands.

After the lawsuit, Winkelmann continued his education, earning a degree in business administration. While South Butt may no longer be in operation, its legacy lives on as a reminder that even the smallest players can make a significant impact and challenge industry giants.

Today, Jimmy Winkelmann is regarded as an entrepreneur who stood up against a corporate behemoth and brought attention to the importance of free speech in the world of commerce. His story has inspired many others to push boundaries, exercise their rights, and not be intimidated by powerful entities.


The South Butt saga stands as a testament to the power of a young entrepreneur’s creativity and resilience. Despite the legal challenges and ultimate closure of the brand, Jimmy Winkelmann’s parody clothing line left an indelible mark on the fashion industry and ignited important discussions on intellectual property rights. South Butt serves as a reminder that even in the face of overwhelming odds, the underdog can make a lasting impact.

The South Butt Legal Battle & Impact:

In the years following the settlement between South Butt and North Face, the impact of the legal battle has reverberated throughout the fashion industry and intellectual property landscape.

Firstly, the South Butt case highlighted the power of social media and the internet in shaping public opinion and rallying support for a cause. Winkelmann’s story gained widespread attention through online platforms, with many people rallying behind him as a symbol of standing up against corporate bullying. This case serves as a prime example of how social media can amplify the voice of the underdog and bring attention to important issues.

Additionally, the South Butt lawsuit brought the topic of trademark parody to the forefront. Parody, as a form of protected speech, has always been a contentious area of trademark law. The legal battle sparked discussions on the boundaries of parody, fair use, and the protection of intellectual property rights. Courts have since grappled with similar cases and have had to carefully consider the line between permissible parody and trademark infringement.

Furthermore, the South Butt saga has had a lasting impact on the strategies employed by companies when dealing with parodies. Many brands have become more cautious in their responses to parodies, recognizing the potential backlash from attempting to stifle free speech. Some companies have even taken a more lighthearted approach, embracing parodies and turning them into marketing opportunities.

As for Jimmy Winkelmann, he has gone on to pursue other endeavors, leveraging his experiences and newfound fame. While South Butt may no longer be in operation, Winkelmann’s entrepreneurial spirit has remained intact. He has used his story as a platform to inspire others, speaking at various events and sharing his insights on entrepreneurship, intellectual property, and the importance of standing up for what one believes in.

Winkelmann’s journey serves as a reminder that setbacks and legal battles do not define a person’s future. His tenacity and ability to turn adversity into opportunities have inspired aspiring entrepreneurs and creatives to persevere in the face of challenges.

In conclusion, the South Butt legal battle against North Face captured the public’s attention, sparking discussions on trademark law, intellectual property rights, and the power dynamics between small businesses and industry giants. While South Butt may have ceased its operations, its legacy lives on as a symbol of resilience, free speech, and the potential for individuals to make an impact in the face of adversity. The case serves as a reminder that even the smallest players can challenge established norms and leave a lasting imprint on their respective industries.

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