North Face, South Butt reach agreement

2010-04-03T00:00:00Z North Face, South Butt reach agreementBY CYNTHIA BILLHARTZ GREGORIAN • cbillhartz@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8114 stltoday.com

The North Face and The South Butt have come to an agreement.

Details of the settlement in the trademark infringement lawsuit are sparse, though.

"All I'm permitted to say is that the parties have resolved their differences amicably," said Albert Watkins, South Butt's usually loquacious lawyer. "And little Jimmy Winkelmann is currently enjoying himself a great deal down in the sunny climes of Panama City, Fla., giving away South Butt products to frolicking spring breakers."

Calls to Michael Kahn and David Roodman of Bryan Cave, local lawyers for The North Face, were not returned.

Winkelmann, 19, of Ladue, created The South Butt LLC in 2007 while a student at Chaminade College Prep. He claimed it was a parody of The North Face, a brand of trendy outdoor wear. Winkelmann is now a freshman at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Winkelmann had made only about $5,000 in profits off the clothing line as of last August, when he received a letter from The North Face, threatening legal action unless he stopped selling his products immediately. According to The North Face, Winkelmann was confusing consumers.

Winkelmann and a team of marketers publicized the letter and marketed it as a case of a multibillion dollar corporation bullying a teenager who was merely trying to make money for college. Watkins and Winkelmann steadfastly maintained that The South Butt was a parody and that no one was going to confuse it with The North Face.

At one point, Winkelmann offered to sell The South Butt to The North Face for $1 million, then rescinded the offer as popularity of The South Butt grew.

The federal court had ordered mediation in the case. It was to commence Friday, but the parties came to an agreement late Thursday evening, said Watkins. The irony that it happened on April Fool's Day was not lost on him.

"One cannot help but embrace the irony that has been pervasive throughout this case," he said.

When asked if South Butt products were still for sale, Watkins said, "Why yes, they are." The company's website at www.thesouthbutt.com confirmed this.

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