The Hells Angels logo.
International clothing retailer Trade Secret has apologised to the Hells Angels, after reportedly selling hundreds of shirts with logos that resembled the club’s “death head” insignia.
The Hells Angels threatened to take Trade Secret’s parent company Gazal Corporation Limited to court, claiming two of the retailer’s t-shirts with faux motorcycle club logos breached copyright laws.
The Hells Angels death head logo features wings attached to the back of a skull.
One of the Trade Secret shirts which sparked the controversy.
It is believed Gazal and the Hells Angels reached a confidential settlement in February, with one of the conditions of the agreement requiring the retailer to issue a public apology.
A copy of the apology, obtained by Fairfax Media, shows Gazal denied it breached consumer law, but had reached a settlement with the club.
“Trade Secret would like to publicly acknowledge the Hells Angels’ intellectual property rights in its trade marks and the copyright in the images which are contained in those trade marks,” director Richard Gazal wrote.
Trade Secret has apologised to the Hells Angels for selling shirts which appear to bear the club's logo.
“In selling and manufacturing the two T-shirt designs, Trade Secret did not intend to infringe the Hells Angels’ intellectual property rights or diminish its reputation and expresses regret for any offence taken by the Hells Angels as a result of that conduct."
Brisbane intellectual property barrister Dimitrios Eliades, who represented the Hells Angels, said the club was entitled to defend its logo. He said the number of shirts sold was “in the hundreds”.
“Their approach is no different to commercial businesses that are successful and have branding, and see their brands being diluted by people trying to use them,” Dr Eliades said.
“Whilst they might attract more attention than other trademark owners who fall into the small to medium enterprise category, they’re really just saying, ‘why have these trademarks if people can piggy-back off them or make some money by implying an association?’”.
Wearing the Trade Secret shirts to a Queensland pub may also be a fashion faux pas of a different kind. It would likely attract police scruitny because the state's VLAD laws ban Hells Angels club colours being worn in licensed premises.
A Gazal spokeswoman said the company “won’t be commenting on the Hells Angels matter as this was a confidential settlement”.
The case is the latest example of the Hells Angels suing companies for alleged copyright breaches.
It sued high-end designer Alexander McQueen in 2010 over a themed collection which reportedly included a knuckle-duster worth more than $400.
The club also settled out of court with Toys “R” Us over a death head-themed yo-yo, and in Australia settled with Mambo clothing over a children’s collection named “Heaven’s Angels.”