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Is That a Louis? LV’s Trademark Can Make Garbage Worth $150,000

Louis Vuitton: it might just be every fashion-lover’s dream to own one; after all, Louis Vuitton’s trademark is iconic, timeless…and relatively expensive. Who would have thought, 158 years ago, that Mr. Vuitton’s name would be worth about 3.2 billion dollars today? So famous is the LV trademark that just its mere embroidery could transform garbage into high fashion. The Urban Satchel bag, pictured above, is a unique handbag designed entirely with…garbage. But, it’s not the bag’s décor–including a partially chewed piece of gum–that drops jaws: the purse sells for $150,000.

According to the Digital Luxury Group (DLG), Louis Vuitton is one of the most sought after luxury handbag brands in the world, second only to Coach. For decades, shoppers have eagerly dropped thousands of dollars for one Louis Vuitton handbag (plus a few hundred dollars to get a sparkly, dangly purse accessory). This willingness to spend wads of cash for one bag had others thinking: “what if I made a bag that looked like a Louis Vuitton?”

It may not come as a surprise that Louis Vuitton (pronounced Lewee Vee-ton) might just be one of many companies that litigates—and very often at that—to protect its name. In fact, one of Louis Vuitton’s trademark infringement suits created a new legal precedent: internet servers could be held liable for their customer’s own copyright and trademark infringement. Still, it is never an easy win for Louis Vuitton.

Take for instance Louis Vuitton’s lawsuit over a scene from Hangover 2. When Stu moved a large brown bag off an airport chair, Alan angrily exclaimed, “careful, that is a Lewis Vuitton!” Louis Vuitton sued Warner Bros., arguing that the film’s 25-second use of the Diophy bag would confuse viewers into believing that the bag was a genuine Louis Vuitton. Additionally, Louis Vuitton did not want viewers to believe that it approved the use of the bag in the film. But, in its June 2012 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of Warner Bros., stating that the film’s use of the Diophy bag had genuine relevance to the story. Thus, the LV suit against Warner Bros. failed because of First Amendment protection.

You can read the Hangover 2 case here.

It is important to protect your intellectual property. Whether you made a handbag, a song, or any invention, you can be sure that the Yau Law Firm has the experience to protect your rights.  Call us today and learn how!

Article by: Florence Chen

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