DuetsBlog Collaborations in Creativity & the Law

Second Circuit Agrees: Louis Vuitton Can’t Take a Joke

Posted in Branding, Copyrights, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Fashion, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying

If you’re still looking for holiday gift for that special someone, the Second Circuit has your back. Fresh off the docket, the Second Circuit gave its blessing to My Other Bag’s line of parody canvas tote bags. For additional background, you can read our discussion of the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant here. However, here’s the short version: My Other Bag (“MOB”) sells canvas tote bags that cost about $30 – $60. The line of bags is a parody of the “My Other Car Is a … [BMW, Mercedes, etc.]” bumper stickers and states on one side of the bag “My Other Bag…” with a cartoonish drawing of a luxury handbag on the other side (see example below). Louis Vuitton sued, claiming the bag infringed and diluted its trademarks and also infringed its copyright in the bag design. The District Court granted summary judgment to MOB and Louis Vuitton appealed to the Second Circuit.

MOB Image

 

If Louis Vuitton hoped for a more friendly reception at the Second Circuit, the oral arguments might have been a wake up call. During the oral argument, one member of the three judge panel told told Louis Vuitton’s counsel “This is a joke. I understand you don’t get the joke. But it’s a joke.” Although statements during oral argument don’t consistently predict how a court may rule, that is not the case here. On December 22, the Second Circuit issued a summary order affirming the District Court’s grant of summary judgment on all of Louis Vuitton’s claims. Perhaps this will be the end of the road for Louis Vuitton and MOB, or maybe Louis Vuitton will seek to continue the appeal. The more interesting aspect will be to see whether Louis Vuitton adjusts its aggressive approach to trademark enforcement in light of the loss.