Louis Vuitton vs My Other Bag (MOB)

Louis Vuitton, the world’s most valuable fashion house based in Paris, filed an infringement lawsuit, back in June 2014, against My Other Bag (MOB), a small company based in Los Angeles, United States, claiming among others, that MOB is infringing on their registered trademarks and designs, but also diluting its famous trademark.

Louis Vuitton also claims that MOB completely ignored the several requests to cease production and marketing of their bags that infringed on Louis Vuitton’s designs.

Interestingly, an “amicus curiae brief” was filed by professors Cristopher Jon Sprigman (New York University School of Law) and Rebecca Tushnet (Georgetown University Law Center), invoking the famous The Treachery of Images – “Ceci ce n’est pas un pipe.”, claiming that “The words of the painting force us to reconsider the relation between image and reality. Analogously, the words on a MOB bag (“My Other Bag…”) and the fact that the image on the surface of the MOB BAG opposite the words is a cartoon, rather than a photorealistic image of the LV bag or a facsimile of the LV pattern directly applied to every surface of the tote, create palpable incongruities that lead any reasonably percipient consumer to see the joke”.

In January 2016, on an historical decision, the Southern District of New York court judge, Jesse M. Furman decided against the claims of Louis Vuitton, stating that they should “accept the implied compliment in parody” and that “MOB’s use of Louis Vuitton’s marks in service of what is an obvious attempt at humor is not likely to cause confusion or the blurring of the distinctiveness of Louis Vuitton’s marks, if anything, it is likely only to reinforce and enhance the distinctiveness and notoriety of the famous brand.”

Louis Vuitton filed an appeal stating that judge Jesse M. Furman had incorporated his own personal views on the decision and misinterpreted the spirit of the TDRA (Trademark Dilution Revision Act) and the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

Designers, small business companies, entrepreneurs, writers, artists and others are eagerly awaiting the court decision on the appeal by Louis Vuitton as a decision of this caliber may have ripples in the interpretation of the TDRA and may change the panorama of trademark dilution and infringement in the United States of America.

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