The North Face follows through with South Butt lawsuit

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A California-based outfitter is officially butting into the affairs of a young Columbia entrepreneur.  

The North Face Apparel Corp. filed a lawsuit last week against The South Butt, a small business founded by MU freshman, Jimmy Winkelmann.

In the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, The North Face asked the court to cease any further South Butt production, marketing and selling. Additionally, it has requested unspecified damages from The South Butt, Winkelmann and St. Louis-based Williams Pharmacy Inc., where the products are made and sold.

The South Butt sells parody products such as T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, fleece jackets, shorts and hats. In a previous interview, Winkelmann said The South Butt was created in 2007 to mock people who wore brand-name clothing like The North Face. Winkelmann keeps the business going as a way to help pay for his college tuition.

Originally, The South Butt told The North Face it could buy the company for $1 million but then later retracted the offer after South Butt products gained momentum and publicity.

According to the complaint filed in district court, The South Butt's sales in November totaled more than $100,000.

Winkelmann’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, said, “The company is worth well more than a million dollars now that The North Face has done what it's done.” He said the South Butt does not regret taking the million-dollar offer off the table.  

“Right now what The North Face is demanding is completely unacceptable,” Watkins said. “Little Jimmy doesn’t have enough money in his left pocket to pay for a six-pack of Coca-Cola much less the permanent cease charged by the silk-stocking law firms representing The North Face.”

Winkelmann declined further comment Monday.

Lawyers with The North Face also declined comment, and calls to the company's communications department were not returned.

In light of the current legal battle, The South Butt created an Internet challenge on Facebook, asking viewers to look at photographs and identify if they are of a face or of a butt.

Watkins said The South Butt is not worried and is focusing its efforts on the upcoming holiday season.

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Patrick Sweet December 15, 2009 | 2:28 p.m.

And the Best Lead Award goes to...

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junsz wei January 4, 2010 | 7:16 a.m.

I support The North Face jacket,because I have many outerwear of the north face,great quality

(Editor's note: This comment was edited to remove a disallowed HTML tag)

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