Screen legend Marlon Brando helped make the leather jacket and jack boot the “uniform” of the biker culture in his portrayal of Johnny Strabler in the movie “The Wild One.”
The iconic image is so closely tied to the culture that in 2010 when Harley-Davidson released a new boot similar in style to the pair made famous by the screen legend, the company thought it would honor the actor by calling their boots “The Brando.”
The only problem was the marketing department forgot to check with the legal department and nobody checked with the estate of the late actor.
Brando Enterprises has authorized the use of his name in connection with Triumph motorcycles, MasterCard, and Dolce & Gabbana but not Harley-Davidson.
According to papers filed in court, Brando Enterprises said, ‘They (Harley-Davidson) have been aggressive protecting its own intellectual property from perceived infringements and should have known better.”
Once the suit was filed, Harley moved quickly to remove the boots from its online stores and dealer shelves.
On March 7th the two sides agreed to settle out of court. The terms of the deal were not immediately released but the settlement marks the second major win for Brando Enterprises in its protection of the brand. It had previously sued Ashley Furniture Industries for selling a line of sofas and sectionals known as the “Brando.” The lawsuit closed after Ashley agreed to hand over $356,000 while not admitting any liability on Brando’s claims.
While The Wild One has become synonymous with biker culture, it was Triumphs and not Harley-Davidsons that featured prominently in the 1953 film.