Louis Vuitton loses parody bag case

Louis Vuitton’s parent company LVMH has lost a trademark case that it filed nearly two years ago against tote maker My Other Bag.

A New York state judge ruled that My Other Bag’s canvas totes, which feature illustrations of Louis Vuitton purses, are simply parodies and therefore do not serve as sources of trademark infringement or dilution.

“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,” Judge Jesse M. Furman of New York State’s southern district wrote in the decision.

Lee Curtis, a UK-based trade mark attorney and partner at intellectual property law firm HGF, said he doubts this case would have had the same outcome in the EU since “there is no arguable ‘parody defence’ under the European Trade Mark Directive.”

He continued: “Further to me this does seem to trade on LVMH's repute in their brand and designs. The usage does, in my opinion, create a link in the minds of the purchasing public with LVMH, after all it has to if it is a parody, and at least under EU trade mark law, LVMH would appear to have a reasonable claim for MOB trading off their repute.”

LVMH filed the lawsuit against LA-based My Other Bag in June 2014.