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.