Supreme Court rejects Louis Vuitton parody case

The US Supreme Court will not hear Louis Vuitton's trademark case against My Other Bag, Inc., the LA-based brand that prints images of luxury handbags on cotton market totes.



By rejecting the case, the Court has affirmed that My Other Bag can continue using Louis Vuitton's images and registered marks for its bag-on-a-canvas-bag product line under the legally permissible exception of parody.

The decision puts a substantive conclusion on a three year legal battle that began in 2014 when Louis Vuitton sued My Other Bag in New York federal court to protect its intellectual property. The case arose from a line of $30 to $60 canvas tote bags produced by the LA brand that used images of Louis Vuitton handbags printed on them.

In December of 2016, the appeals court upheld My Other Bag's use was legal. Louis Vuitton appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court, as reported by FashionNetwork.com in July. Louis Vuitton claimed My Other Bag's line would create "significant uncertainty for all owners of famous marks."

In its petition to the US Supreme Court, Louis Vuitton argued that it "has devoted more than a century to developing, promoting, and protecting trademarks that are universally recognized symbols of the company’s products and that constitute a guarantee of the products’ origin and quality.”

Louis Vuitton was not alone in having its images used by My Other Bag. Other luxury retailers including Balenciaga, Proenza Schouler, YSL and Céline were also arguably affected by My Other Bag's bag-on-a-canvas-bag design.

Nevertheless, the US Supreme Court rejected Louis Vuitton's appeal. By doing so it has handed My Other Bag a legal victory that allows it to continue producing its bag-on-a-canvas-bag designs. The two parties are now currently arguing over attorney's fees which are reportedly of the value of $800,000.

As the victor and prevailing party in the suit, My Other Bag has the right to try to recover attorney's fees from Louis Vuitton. In its request for attorney's fees, Other Bag said Louis Vuitton's "aggressive and bullying enforcement tactics" were meant to make money out of an otherwise legally permissible use.

Frequently called patent trolls, this strategy earns companies money by seeking license fees from alleged infringements of their intellectual property. For its part, Louis Vuitton argued that allegation is "simply incorrect."

Regardless of the recovery of attorneys fees, My Other Bag is the clear victor in this case.


 

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