Redbubble to pay Hell's Angels $78,000 for using their logo

Melbourne-based online retailer Redbubble has been ordered to pay $78,000 to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club after it sold items displaying the bikie club’s logo without obtaining permission. 

Redbubble is an online marketplace which provides a platform for users to upload images to be printed on merchandise including stickers, mugs, T-shirts and masks, which are then put up for sale.  

The decision is the second ruling against the retailer in the past three years after it was penalised $5,000 for selling items marked with the Hells Angels symbol in 2019. 

Melbourne-based online retailer Redbubble has been ordered to pay $78,000 to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (pictured) after it sold items displaying the bikie club's logo without obtaining permission

Melbourne-based online retailer Redbubble has been ordered to pay $78,000 to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (pictured) after it sold items displaying the bikie club’s logo without obtaining permission

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Legal action against Redbubble commenced again last year following the discovery that more items were listed for sale with the Hells Angels logo.

The company uses keyword filtering to monitor uploads that may violate the copyright of organisations that have sought to protect material, such as the Hells Angels.

Redbubble told the Federal Court it had moderated two million artworks uploaded to its site over the past five years, including 114 which were related to the Hells Angels following the court decision in 2019.  

However, it was revealed that the Hells Angels’ trademark officer in Australia was able to purchase items displaying the logo despite the previous court ruling. 

The decision is the second ruling against the retailer in the past three years after it was penalised $5,000 for selling items marked with the Hells Angels (pictured) symbol in 2019

The decision is the second ruling against the retailer in the past three years after it was penalised $5,000 for selling items marked with the Hells Angels (pictured) symbol in 2019

Eleven different listings were identified on its site during the course of the case.

The court found the processes which Redbubble had in place to prevent copyright infringement to be flawed.

Several listings that had been suspended for manual review by an outsourced team in Jamaica, for example, were allowed to return to the site in error.

The company has since stopped outsourcing to the Jamaican moderation team.  

Justice Andrew Greenwood stated while the detection system had improved, it had not worked effectively.

‘Clearly enough, they do not operate so as to bring about the result that infringements are always promptly detected and OKEPLAY777 removed from the website.’ 

The only people who bought items displaying the logos were members of the Hells Angel Motorcycle Club (pictured) seeking to determine whether the items were still for sale

The only people who bought items displaying the logos were members of the Hells Angel Motorcycle Club (pictured) seeking to determine whether the items were still for sale

‘Further, the proactive moderation processes as outsourced … failed in large measure to protect the applicant,’ he added. 

The only people who bought items displaying the logos were members of the Hells Angel Motorcycle Club seeking to determine whether the items were still for sale.’

Justice Greenwood awarded damages for trademark infringement.  

Redbubble was ordered to pay $78,250 in damages and additional costs. 

The decision comes after the online store was told to pay $1 in damages to for selling t-shirts that featured artistic depictions of its most famous critter Pikachu in 2017. 

After spotting Pikachu and other characters on Redbubble, the Pokemon Company International sued the online store for copyright infringement, seeking more than $40,000 in damages.

The online store was told to pay $1 in damages to Pokemon for selling t-shirts that featured artistic depictions of its most famous critter Pikachu (pictured) in 2017

The online store was told to pay $1 in damages to Pokemon for selling t-shirts that featured artistic depictions of its most famous critter Pikachu (pictured) in 2017

The Federal Court ruled in the Japanese company’s favour but Justice Tony Pagone only awarded the nominal figure of $1 in damages.

That’s because the designs were not available for purchase within the official Pokemon universe and would not have yielded royalties, the judge said.

‘Many of the items sold through the Redbubble website involved a ‘mash up’ of images, such as the combination of Pikachu and Homer Simpson,’ Justice Pagone said in his judgment.

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