German satirical clothing label Storch Heinar, which pokes fun at a clothing line popular with neo-Nazis, has won a legal battle. The producer of far-right favorite Thor Steinar claimed its brand was being damaged.
The owners of Thor Steinar didn't find the stork funny
A court in Nuremburg dismissed a complaint that Storch Heinar had broken trademark law by lampooning the Thor Steinar brand.
The clothing label Mediatex brought the case against Storch Heinar-founder Mathias Brodkorb, a Social Democrat Party member of the state assembly in Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania.
Mediatex said the name of Thor Steinar - a popular fashion label with neo-Nazi groups - had been damaged by the satirical brand, which also manufactures stickers and crockery.
The Storch Heinar logo features a picture of a decrepit-looking stork, named Heinar, with a Hitler-moustache and often wearing a steel helmet.
Thor Steinar quickly became popular with neo-Nazis
"There is no danger that 'Storch Heinar' would be confused with 'Thor Steinar'," the court said on Wednesday. "The plaintiff's trademarks and products have neither been disparaged nor defamed by the defendant."
Judge Horst Rottmann added that, because the enterprise had been founded for political motives rather than profit, it was necessary to protect Brodkorb's right to freedom of speech and freedom of artistic expression.
Trademark law breached
However, Storch Heinar was found to have breached trademark law by using the label Wuestenfuchs, which belonged to Thor Steiner.
Brodkorb said he was pleased with the publicity
Brodkorb said he was relieved by the outcome, adding he believed the costs would be manageable.
"Set against the publicity campaign that Mediatex has sponsored for us, we will be happy to pay," said Brodkorb.
Storch Heinar was launched in 2008, with its T-shirts bearing anti-fascist slogans as well as the logo. Brodkorb launched the brand as part of the activist organization Endstation Rechts, aimed at fighting right-wing extremism in his state.
Thor Steinar rapidly became popular with the far-right after it was founded in 2002, in part because of its emphasis on Nordic mythology.
Author: Richard Connor (Reuters/dpa/apn)
Editor: Nancy Isenson