A motorcyclist riding a Harley Davidson

Redbubble used Hells Angels logo without their permission and was ordered to

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. Online merchandise store Redbubble has been ordered to pay the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club more than $78,000 for selling items depicting the club’s logo without permission, in the second ruling against the company in three years.
  2. The court found that the processes Redbubble had in place to prevent infringement were flawed, in part because several listings that had been suspended for manual review by an outsourced team in Jamaica were allowed to return to the site in error. Redbubble has since stopped outsourcing to the Jamaican moderation team.
  3. Another flaw was that Redbubble relied only on keywords. The court heard that the company had been working on, but had not yet been able to deliver, a tool that could scan images as they are uploaded to detect potential infringement in real time. The company told the court it was in beta testing on a range of use cases to test its effectiveness.

Full Article

Motorcycle club’s second trademark infringement victory against online merch company in three years.

Redbubble must pay Hells Angels Motorcycle Club $78,000 for unlawfully merchandising its logo. This is their second such judgement in three years.

Redbubble enables users to upload images for printing onto products like mugs, stickers, t-shirts and masks. These can then be purchased online.

In 2019, Hells Angels won $5K from Redbubble for trademark infringement. Last year they took legal action again after finding further products with their logo on sale.

Keyword filtering allows the company to detect uploads that breach copyright or trademarks, including those of Hells Angels.

Redbubble moderated 2 million artworks in 5 years, including 114 connected to Hells Angels since the 2019 court ruling. 477 organisations use their services proactively.

Despite a court ruling, the Hells Angels’ Australian trademark officer managed to purchase multiple goods displaying their logo. 11 listings were discovered in total during proceedings.

Redbubble’s procedures for avoiding infringement were deemed inadequate, partly due to suspended listings being mistakenly reinstated after an outsourced assessment in Jamaica. Redbubble has since ceased outsourcing there.

Redbubble’s only defence was keyword searching but had yet to develop a system that would scan images upon upload. They said it was in beta testing for various scenarios, assessing its capability.

Justice Andrew Greenwood, prior to retirement, declared that the detection system had improved but was still not operational.

He stated that the proactive moderation procedures were inadequate, resulting in infringements not being detected and removed quickly. Moreover, these processes had largely failed to protect the applicant.

Greenwood J awarded damages due to the unauthorised use of trademarks, not sales numbers. This was despite only Hells Angel Motorcycle Club members buying items with said logos in order to see if they were still available.

Greenwood Jawarded the club $80,320 in damages.

Redbubble expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling, mulling an appeal.