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Louis Vuitton loses trade mark case over parody tote bags

LVMH, the parent company behind Louis Vuitton, has lost a case against canvas bag maker My Other Bag (MOB), on the grounds that My Other Bag's products are parodies of its own.13 Jan 2016

MOB sells canvas tote bags with drawings of Louis Vuitton handbags on the sides. A judge in the southern state of New York said that the tote bags are parodies of the real bags and do not fall within trade mark infringement or dilution laws.

“The quip ‘My Other Bag . . . is a Louis Vuitton,’ printed on a workhorse canvas bag, derives its humour from a constellation of features — including the features of the canvas bag itself, society’s larger obsession with status symbols, and the meticulously promoted image of expensive taste (or showy status) that Louis Vuitton handbags have, to many, come to symbolise," Judge Jesse M. Furman of New York State’s southern district wrote in the decision.

"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," he said.

Tara Martin, chief executive of MOB, told The Fashion Law that "parody is one of the oldest and most beloved ways in our culture to address social, economic, and political issues."