Redbubble has to pay a hefty sum in damages to the rock club Hells Angels. The online retailer had used the motorcycle club’s logo without permission. Not for the first time.

Melbourne-based online retailer Redbubble has been ordered to pay the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club $78,000 in damages for trademark infringement. The company had sold items bearing the rocker club’s logo without obtaining permission.

On the online platform Redbubble, users can upload images, then have them printed on items such as stickers, mugs, t-shirts and masks and buy them.

Hells Angels won lawsuit against Redbubble in 2019

It’s not the first judgment of its kind. In 2019, the company had to pay a $5,000 fine for selling items with the Hells Angels symbol. However, it turned out that despite the earlier court ruling, the Hells Angels’ trademark officer in Australia was able to purchase winged skull and crossbones products.

Redbubble uses keyword filters to monitor uploads that may violate the copyright of organizations. The online retailer told Australia’s Federal Court that it has moderated two million artworks uploaded to its website over the past five years, including 114 that were linked to the Hells Angels following the 2019 court ruling.

The court dealt with eleven different articles with said logo that were offered on the website. The court found that the procedures Redbubble had used to prevent copyright infringement were flawed.

Judge awards Hells Angels damages

For example, several listings that had been put on hold for manual review by an outsourced team in Jamaica were mistakenly reposted. The company has since ended outsourcing to the Jamaican moderation team.

Judge Andrew Greenwood said in his verdict on Monday that the detection system had been improved but had not worked effectively. “Clearly they don’t work in such a way that violations are always immediately detected and removed from the site. Also, the outsourced proactive moderation processes (…) have failed to a large extent to protect the claimant,” he said .

The only people who bought items with the logos on them were members of the Hells Angels who wanted to see if the items were still for sale. Greenwood awarded the club $8,250 in damages for damage caused by the unauthorized use of the marks, plus an additional $70,000 in damages.

Quellen: “The Guardian”, “Daily Mail”, Federal Court of Australia