Louis Vuitton Sues Hyundai Over A Louis Vuitton Basketball

from the do-morons-in-a-hurry-play-basketball? dept

Yesterday, I saw that Marty Schwimmer had posted a link to a Hyundai commercial asking if anyone saw the "lawsuit" in the commercial:
It took me a second viewing before I spotted it. The commercial itself plays on the idea of "what if everyone could experience luxury items" showing various examples of "luxury" items being used in more everyday settings: yachts in driveways, cops eating caviar and... some guys shooting hoops with a "luxury" basketball using the typical Louis Vuitton markings that you see on LV purses/handbags/etc.

Louis Vuitton is notoriously (and ridiculously) aggressive when it comes to trademark infringement. A couple years back we wrote about LVMH (parent company of Louis Vuitton) suing a Darfur fundraiser for creating a t-shirt of a Darfur victim "pimped out" to look like Paris Hilton, including a designer handbag with symbols made to look like the LV symbols.

So, yes, that's exactly what this lawsuit is about. DSchneider points us to the Consumerist's article laying out the details and I've embedded the lawsuit filing below:
Frankly, this lawsuit is ridiculous. LVMH is claiming that people might be confused? In what world? Seriously. In what world is anyone going to view the Hyundai commercial and think that it implies any kind of LVMH endorsement of Hyundai. It's a joke -- and any moron in a hurry knows that the LV basketball isn't a sign that LVMH is working with or endorsing Hyundai.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Beta, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 6:04am

    How much does a Louis Vuitton suit cost?

    (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) What I mean is, how much does it cost the defendant? And how much attention does it draw to an advertisement? And could the Hyundai bean-counters have possibly done the math beforehand? And if they didn't, will somebody else tomorrow?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Michael, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 6:06am

    Wait...

    So I can get a Louis Vuitton basketball? Where?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Lost in space (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 6:16am

    Louis, please don't sue me

    + O + O
    O + O +

    LVMH ascii art

     

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  4.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 6:24am

    The puntacular punny punster:

     

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  5.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 6:27am

    The puntacular punny punster:

    "Louis Vuitton is notoriously (and ridiculously) aggressive when it comes to trademark infringement."

    True. One might say they've put a full court press on infringement....

    "A couple years back we wrote about LVMH (parent company of Louis Vuitton) suing a Darfur fundraiser for creating a t-shirt of a Darfur victim "pimped out" to look like Paris Hilton, including a designer handbag with symbols made to look like the LV symbols."

    Yeah, they really dropped the ball on that one....

    "So, yes, that's exactly what this lawsuit is about. DSchneider points us to the Consumerist's article laying out the details and I've embedded the lawsuit filing below:"

    Sounds like their pursuing Hyundai up and down the court (DOUBLE PUN POINTS!)

    "Frankly, this lawsuit is ridiculous. LVMH is claiming that people might be confused?"

    I agree. The defense has a slam dunk case....

     

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  6.  
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    Coughing Monkey (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 6:37am

    it's always fun to see how the elitist's react. they prolly get more commercial exposure now because of the law suit at a much lower price. get a grip!

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    pferland, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 7:11am

    Re:

    Prolly?
    New word of the day for Probably will?

     

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  8.  
    icon
    Comboman (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 7:14am

    Re: The puntacular punny punster:

    They were going to sue for gross profits but decided instead to go for nothing-but-net.

     

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  9.  
    icon
    Bob Bunderfeld (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 7:26am

    Hate Me Today

    I know I'm going to get slammed from every direction for saying this, but, maybe LVMH has a point.

    First, let me say, that you didn't see any other "Branded" products in this commercial, only LVMH. Second, it is customary to get permission from the Brand Holder whenever you use their Branded Items in any type of recorded materials. Third, as has been stated over and again here, the law itself could be the causation for these lawsuits.

    So, why didn't Hyundai include any other Branded Items in their commercial? Why not show people eating a Branded Chocolate like Ghiaradali (SP) or the like? Is it because when you do so, you are supposed to get people's approval? Why didn't Hyundai ask LVMH for approval? Seriously, are there not other High-Brands out there that LVMH couldn't have received approval from and used, that they just chose LVMH and hoped it all worked out ok?

    As people have said again and again here, the Law itself requires the Holders to aggressively pursue infringements in court to protect their Copyrights. LVMH is doing this, perhaps because they don't want anyone thinking it's "ok" to use their Branded Property or Brands, in any other works.

    Do I think sometimes Copyright holders go well above what they should to protect their Copyrights? No doubt, but the flip side says there are reasons they do this, and perhaps if they would change the Laws, these company's wouldn't work so hard at keeping their Brands?

     

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  10.  
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    Rob.Etler (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 7:33am

    So Louis Vuitton is afraid people will mistake them for, what, Spalding?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 7:43am

    Re: Hate Me Today

    Because it was not 'branded' it was a basketball with gold colored shapes that resemble LVMH branding. They did not actually use the stylized LV. They used gold colored bulls-eye looking shapes and x's. Does it look similar to a LV 'branded item? yeah I guess it might but to imply that Hyundai should have asked/paid LVMH for the privilege of showing a basketball for 1 second during a car commercial because it looks similar to the design they use on a handbagg is asinine. Side by side look at the 'confusing ' basketball http://consumerist.com/lvlawsuit.jpg

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    AWDaholic, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: Prolly?

    Not a *new* word. I been using it for approx 5 years, now, over at: AudiForums.com

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 8:05am

    Label Me

    Stop putting your brand labels on everything. We see your evil plot to claim copyright or trademark infringement for merely living our daily lives.

     

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  14.  
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    crade (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 8:06am

    Re: Hate Me Today

    Err... the comercial is about posh things in unposh situations. The point is to show that the basketball is posh. The LV brand is synonomous with posh (put an LV brand on a normal peice of junk and it is suddenly posh). Caviar, diamonds, etc are already synonomous with posh on their own. There would be no joke in spoofing a brand on them.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 8:11am

    While the basketball does not have the actual LV markings it is obvious that the markings used were meant to approximate the LV brand.

    Does it infringe. I don't think so but I'm not an expert on trademark law. I will say that I would think that the legal dept. at Hyundai should have spotted that when they reviewed the commercial and at least discussed the ramifications. Maybe they think they are in the right or the cost involved with defending the suit will be less than the profit from the exposure.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Chunky Vomit, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 8:21am

    Any given moron in a hurry wouldn't notice the logo anyway.

     

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  17.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re:

    Even if the markings are the same on the ball it is only 2/5 of LV's pattern. I think that Hyundai should try and claim that it was a horatian satirical parody (criticize some vice in society (oftentimes identified as foolish rather than evil) through gentle, mild, and light-hearted humor).

    Is it not funny that a luxury textile company is suing a company who is trying to bring luxury to those who can't normally afford luxury items? All over a product that LV does not make?

    The commercial would have been more effective if they would have used a golden basketball rim and a normal ball. Unless they were wanting to get free advertising by this lawsuit.

     

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  18.  
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    Hulser (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 9:08am

    Re: Hate Me Today

    Second, it is customary to get permission from the Brand Holder whenever you use their Branded Items in any type of recorded materials.

    While it may be customary, it's not legally required. The only reason that it became customary was to avoid frivilous lawsuits from overly agressive trademark holders like LV.

    Third, as has been stated over and again here, the law itself could be the causation for these lawsuits.

    The thing is the law doesn't actually require that companies be this aggresive in protecting their trademark. The problem is that the company's actions is not based on defending the trademark in terms of its actual purpose i.e. consumer protection. Their actions stem from their belief that a trademark is an actual form of property i.e. "intellectual property". In other words, if they understood that the real purpose of trademark was to protect the consumer, all they'd have to do is apply the moron-in-a-hurry test to realize that they didn't need to sue. But because they view trademark as property, they feel like they had to sue (even though they don't).

     

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  19.  
    icon
    Comboman (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 9:36am

    Re: Hate Me Today

    As people have said again and again here, the Law itself requires the Holders to aggressively pursue infringements in court to protect their Copyrights.

    You may have a point if you're talking about Trademarks rather than Copyrights. Trademark holders are required to protect their marks from any use that would genericize it (for example, using the term "Band-Aid" to refer to any brand of bandage other than Johnson & Johnson's), otherwise they risk losing the exclusive right to that mark.

    Copyright holders are under no such requirement. They may selectively sue some infringing uses and ignore or even encourage others (i.e. fan-fiction) without any risk of losing their copyright.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    Cohen (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Hate Me Today

    Anoynmous Coward:

    You've got your points wrong.

    The Hyundai commercial did attempt to brand the basketball so that it resembled the LV trademarked design.

    The gold-colored shapes are on a brown, leather-type surface. This is the same as the well-known image of LV bags.

    They did use the stylized LV. It is directly above the base of the thumb next to the seam of the basketball.

    The gold-colored bullseye-looking shapes and crosses are almost identical to the circles and crosses used in the trademarked LV bags.

    And despite what you may think is asinine, the court is actually the final judge.

    But suppose a commercial for a LV handbag was to show a toy car with a Hyundai logo on it driving into an LV bag.

    Let's say the commercial made the statement that everyone wants to live in an LV world.

    I guarantee you that Hyundai would have sued to keep LV from using the Hyundai logo without permission.

    And one of the points would have been that people might be confused that Hyundai was making toy cars.

    I'm getting tired of TechDirt's attempts to confuse its readers (and obviously Anonymous Coward, you are very confused) as to the rights companies have to keep others from using and abusing their logos and trademarks.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 9:45am

    I wanted to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag, and accidentally got a Hyundai! Hyundai confused me!!!

     

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  22.  
    icon
    Cohen (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 9:48am

    Does it infringe?

    If I was in charge of LV trademarks I'd file exactly the same lawsuit that LV did.

    I hope they win.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Cohen (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 9:51am

    How about asking a trademark lawyer for a comment

    Mike,

    Instead of just mouthing off and stating that the lawsuit is ridiculous, how about finding a trademark lawyer and asking her/him what the actual law is about.

    That way your blog would be more educational that masturbatory.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 10:22am

    Re: How about asking a trademark lawyer for a comment

    Because laws are never ridiculous and making fun of those laws without the input of lawyers is masturbatory?

    Intellectual property laws are an aberration of the natural law that surrounds us.

     

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  25.  
    icon
    GregSJ (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 10:25am

    Dilution not confusion

    The real meat of LV's claim is not in Trademark confusion but rather the dilution of the LV mark to stand for generic luxury rather than their line of goods. (Dilution is the diminishing of a famous mark’s distinctiveness. It is actionable regardless of confusion or competition - see 15 USC 1125) The problem, from the view of most Techdirt readers, is that dilution treats Trademarks as though they are the intellectual property of the owners rather than as the means of minimizing customer confusion. Thus the problem with LV's lawsuit is more of a general disagreement behind the purpose of trademark law than the lawsuit itself. That being said I doubt there was any actual dilution here but thanks to the Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006 all LV needs to prove is that the basketball was likely to cause dilution.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 10:27am

    Re: How about asking a trademark lawyer for a comment

    Instead of just mouthing off and stating that the lawsuit is ridiculous, how about finding a trademark lawyer and asking her/him what the actual law is about.

    I did. He told me it was ridiculous, and a sign of (hang on, lemme find the quote) "the insanity that trademark law has become."

    Either way my comment on the ridiculousness of it was not from a legal perspective, but from a *common sense* perspective. The lawsuit makes no common sense.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Shawn, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Hate Me Today

    Sorry I do not see a distinguishable LV . The court is not the final judge on what is asinine? Not in this country the courts pass countless asinine decisionshe courts especially in the IP arena. If your madeup Hyundai into a LV bag scenario played out it would be just as asinine for Hyundai to sue LV.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 11:47am

    And next time quote the lawyer

    Then tell us that you did ask a trademark lawyer for a comment. And that he said "Blah, blah, blah."

    It will make your own personal statements mean more.

    Already I am more likely to believe in your argument.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 11:48am

    Check your eyes

    The intertwined LV is on the basketball.

    Sorry you can't see it.

    Get your eyes checked.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Sarah Chino, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 12:51pm

    i really don't think this is worth a lawsuit

     

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  31.  
    icon
    Money Mike (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Prolly?

    It's funny you say that because I often pronounce the word like that, but I actually started using it in texts and emails with one of my friends years ago and I thought we came up with it ourselves. I haven't used it in a couple years and I honestly don't remember seeing it in writing anywhere else.

    On a side note, AWDaholic, I'm interested in the site you referenced. I actually picked up a used A4 last year for well below the KBB value and while I haven't really done much looking for sites, I only knew about Audizine. I'll have to check out. I don't really live on the forums like I used to when I had my older cars.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    crade (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Dilution not confusion

    hehe, I just looked up that Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006 that is hilarious! You only get these special advantage if you are a really big corporation too. Priceless!

     

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  33.  
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    Money Mike (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Check your eyes

    Yes and no. The pattern is very similar and there is a logo that's almost identical to the intertwined "LV," but it's actually an "LZ." That sure seems like a parody to me.

    Before you tell someone to check their eyes, I think you should make it clear that it's not visible in the picture the other AC linked to, but it is clear when you pause the video in the right spot and you're watching it in higher quality.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    Re:

    Well sure, one would think that way if one weren't a lawyer! How else are they going to get paid?

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Does it infringe?

    They won't, mainly because the marks are clearly not identical, LV doesn't deal in sports equipment, and it's clear parody. Sorry, in the US parody is protected.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    dorp, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hate Me Today

    [i]
    I guarantee you that Hyundai would have sued to keep LV from using the Hyundai logo without permission. [/i]

    So you are a trademark lawyer that knows that for sure?

     

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  37.  
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    Sos (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 9:25pm

    Crisatunity!

    If I worked for LV id bring out an LV basketball - quick! before an Ed Hardy one comes out

     

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  38.  
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    Richard (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 2:07am

    The only reasonable response from Hyundai is...

    Hyundai should clearly apologise, very publicly. I suggest massive ads in all major publications and a do-over of the ad. In this apology they should make if very clear that LV is not a luxury brand, as clearly that is the mistake they have made here.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    mertz, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:47am

    different marks. lz logo. the person who designed it was very careful with the likliness of the recognizable lv brand design, but it's not the exact same. this is a waste of resources and waste of time.

     

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  40.  
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    Just Another Moron in a Hurry (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:56am

    Actually...

    "and any moron in a hurry knows that the LV basketball isn't a sign that LVMH is working with or endorsing Hyundai. "

    Actually, if I had seen this, I would've assumed that LV had arranged for some kind of Product Placement deal with Hyundai.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Just Another Moron in a Hurry (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:06am

    Re: Actually...

    ...I still wouldn't somehow get confused over which company is LV and which is Hyundai.

     

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  42.  
    icon
    GregSJ (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re: Dilution not confusion

    No one ever said lobbying didn't pay ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    the trademark troll, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    What if is the problem....

    When I was a corporate trademark attorney and a situation like this arose I would ask myself: which side would I rather be on ours or theirs? Here I would rather fight for LV than for Hyundai. But the fight does not center on the basketball it centers on the theme of the advertisment.

    Why in the world does anyone pay ridiculous amounts of money for a purse of quetionable quality? So that one can tell the world I CAN AFFORD THIS AND YOU CAN'T. If suddenly my brand gets associated with afforability I am dead. Yes dead.

    The theme of affordable luxuary is a direct attack on the very soul of LV and its reason to exist. And my guess is that they would be able to prevail. Dilution? The doctrine has a miserable succes rate since it was formally incorporate into US law. But trademark law is often decided by courts on a subjective/ equitable basis. Even before dilution courts were able to stretch and twist trademark doctrine to fit the circumstances never meant for trademark infrigement

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    the trademark troll, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:43pm

    What if is the problem....

    When I was a corporate trademark attorney and a situation like this arose I would ask myself: which side would I rather be on ours or theirs? Here I would rather fight for LV than for Hyundai. But the fight does not center on the basketball it centers on the theme of the advertisment.

    Why in the world does anyone pay ridiculous amounts of money for a purse of questionable quality? So that one can tell the world I CAN AFFORD THIS AND YOU CAN'T. If suddenly my brand gets associated with afforability I am dead. Yes dead.

    The theme of affordable luxuary is a direct attack on the very soul of LV and its reason to exist. And my guess is that they would be able to prevail. Dilution? The doctrine has a miserable succes rate since it was formally incorporated into US law. But trademark law is often decided by courts on a subjective/ equitable basis. Even before dilution courts were able to stretch and twist trademark doctrine to fit circumstances never meant for trademark infrigement

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re: And next time quote the lawyer

    Why not just go to the lawyer's page to read the lawyer's thoughts, instead of coming here?

    OR Mike could just post "Blah blah blah", that way, we can all believe that, indeed, Mike thinks that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Val, Mar 7th, 2010 @ 6:10pm

    They do have a case, but where can i get one i just now saw the it on TV nd the first second i saw it i knew it was louis vuitton. I wanted one so bad, because i love louis vuitton and basketball.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    enrolled agent, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 5:45pm

    This is funny!

    An LV basketball? I wouldn't want to dribble that on the floor! Every dribble could be worth a hundred bucks! :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    saiou, May 18th, 2010 @ 10:29pm

    I like

    I want to dribble that on the floor

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Kristi, Nov 3rd, 2010 @ 7:06pm

    Yep, that's ridiculous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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