Logo wars: the biker gang vs the fashion pack

In a trademark challenge that would be run-of-the-mill but for the threatening roar of motorcycle engines in the background, the Hells Angels are suing Alexander McQueen, the luxury fashion house, and the Saks department store company for allegedly purloining their skull-and-wings logo for profit.

A lawsuit was filed by the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club – a "non-profit mutual benefit corporation" – in a Los Angeles court this week, demanding that all items like dresses, jewellery and handbags bearing the offending motifs or designs be withdrawn from the market. It also seeks penalties.

Emblazoned on the jackets of Angels since about 1948, the so-called "Death Head" has been furiously defended by the group in repeated lawsuits, including in recent years against the Disney organisation and an Australian children's clothing maker.

"The impact of these marks is virtually incomparable, and as a result they have great commercial value," the suit argues, alleging that the defendants – they also include the online shoe retailer Zappos – seek "to exploit that value for their own gain".

Among items that have caused offence is a dress currently available from Alexander McQueen for £860. There was no comment from the London-based company, whose founder committed suicide in February. It is owned by the French luxury-goods brand PPR. Gucci, which is hardly unfamiliar with legal battles to defend its trademark, is part of the same group.

The fight will serve as a reminder to the fashion world that attempts to appropriate a rough and edgy aesthetic from groups like the Hells Angels does not come without peril – legal if not actually physical. The lawsuit targets goods that bear logos or designs confusingly similar to the Death Head such as a "Hells Angel Pashmina", a "Hells Knuckle Duster" and the "Hells Angels Jacquard Box Dress".

"From more than half a century of continuous and conspicuous usage, both the Hells Angels word mark and the Death Head design mark are famous," the lawsuit says. The name and logo "are widely known and recognised by the public as indicating the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club".

Lawyers suggested that anyone wearing any of the items cited in the lawsuit would be considered imposters trying to insinuate themselves inside the world's most famous motorcycling fraternity. This, however, might seem like a somewhat unlikely proposition for most would-be purchasers of goods from the likes of Alexander McQueen and Saks, who have never mounted a Harley or Honda in their lives and would rather not try.

There isn't much that the Hells Angels won't do to keep their logo safe, it seems. Last year, they went to court in Canada to regain possession of Death Head-emblazoned articles seized by police in a huge drugs raid in downtown Toronto.

The action against Disney was prompted by a film called Wild Hogs even while it was still in development. The challenge had the desired effect. A comedy portraying a group of middle-aged friends taking to the road on motorcycles and starring John Travolta in his leathers, the film came out with nary a Death Head in sight.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Bid Manager, London

    £45000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...

    Marketing Executive

    £23000 - £26000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Pen Tester / Penentration Tester

    £35000 - £55000 per annum + BONUS + BENS: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Penet...

    Day In a Page

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor