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My Other Bag Is A Louis Vuitton Parody

News and Notes Focused on the 3 Public Faces of IP Law

  • Brand Image Protection - Trademark Law
  • Visual Image Protection - Copyright Law
  • Personal Image Protection - Right of Publicity Law

The Image Protection Law blog has been created in order to share stories and information on the legal aspects of: 1) the marketplace reputation of a company or product captured in its trademark, 2) published or publicly-displayed artwork, photography, and any created visual design, and 3) use of a person's photograph or likeness for product promotion or other commercial purposes.

The "IP3" share at least one thing in common: Image is everything. In these posts let's look at what that means in the realm of intellectual property in the news, but let's also be prepared to explore if there's something more beyond "everything." Don't forget, the intellectual in "intellectual property" doesn't mean smart or brainy, although by nature true creators often are. The word is used to refer to any creation, i.e., a "product of the mind." While this blog will be regularly updated, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these posts.

MyOtherBag3.pngMyOtherBag2.png

Brand Image Protection: We've all seen the bumper sticker on someone's old beater car that says "My Other Car is A Mercedes." Now comes the tote bag with that says in big letters on one side the trademark "MY OTHER BAG" while on the other side is depicted an image of another bag (but as a "bag within a bag - see image above) with the famous Louis Vuitton interlocking "LV" design.

In Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. My Other Bag, Inc., 14-CV-3419 (SDNY 2016) Louis Vuitton sued My Other Bag (MOB) for dilution of its trademark, i.e., the gradual whittling away of the distinctiveness of a famous mark by "blurring" The court noted hypothetical examples of dilution by blurring: Schlitz varnish, Kodak pianos, and Bulova gowns. The dilution statute specifically exempts "parodying" of a famous mark, but does not define the term. Nevertheless, the court cited precedent opinions that described parody as conveying "two simultaneous - and contradictory - messages: that it is the original, but that it is not the original and is instead a parody." It must "communicate some articulable element of satire, ridicule, joking, or amusement." This the MOB bag did. The court asked rhetorically whether Louis Vuitton was simply unfamiliar with the famous bumper sticker. Clearly it was, prompting the court to add: "Or maybe it just cannot take a joke."

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