Louis Vuitton Strikes Again: Shuts Down Art Exhibit That Commented On LV Trademarks

from the parody? dept

Earlier this year, you may recall that we wrote about a bizarre and ridiculous lawsuit that luxury goods retailer Louis Vuitton had filed against Hyundai, because for a couple of seconds in a Hyundai commercial, a basketball is seen with markings that sorta kinda mimic (though, not exactly) LV's handbag design. This is the same Louis Vuitton that had sued a fundraiser who had made t-shirts to raise money for Darfur, which included an illustration of a "pimped out" Darfur victim who was holding a bag that also mimicked LV's designs.

I was reminded of both of these cases recently when I was catching up on recent episodes of the TV show Mythbusters. In one episode, the myth being tested is whether or not you can build a cannon out of leather. In the final attempt, Mythbuster Kari Byron decides to "decorate" the cannon, and does so with symbols that, again, mimic the LV design, turning it into a "designer cannon." Unfortunately, it looks like Discovery doesn't let you embed clips (why, Discovery, why?), but here's a quick screen shot that I took:
All I could think of was whether or not (a) Mythbusters/Discovery had cleared that and gotten a license from LVMH or (b) if LVMH was going to sue. I have no idea if anything has happened there, but you can rest assured that LVMH is busy on the legal front elsewhere.

ChurchHatesTucker points us to the news that LVMH has shut down an art exhibit in Japan that involved sculptures of nine locusts, that were each made from counterfeit Louis Vuitton bags:
The sculptures were clearly meant to act as commentary on the nature of luxury brands and counterfeiting, as they were named Batta Mon, which the article linked above says is:
a play on the words batta ("locust") and battamon (slang for "knockoff"). According to the artist, the works are meant to raise questions about the relationship between authenticity and imitation in a consumer-driven society.
It seems like that's a perfectly good subject for commentary through art, and it seems ridiculous that LVMH is stifling the artist's work. Nothing in this exhibit is going to make anyone think that it was endorsed by LVMH. It certainly isn't doing anything to create consumer confusion. The artist is pissed off, but the museum said it didn't want to deal with a legal fight, so this artist's work gets taken down as yet another company abuses trademark law. Watch out, Mythbusters, you may be next...

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  1. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 11:36am

    " after receiving a letter of complaint from Louis Vuitton claiming that the works damage the image of their luxury products because they incorporate material from counterfeit products. "

    So if they had been made from real LV bags it would have been fine?

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

  2. icon
    average_joe (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 11:38am

    Don't touch my MythBusters! :)

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

  3. identicon
    Danny, 29 Jun 2010 @ 11:46am

    This is getting damn sad...

    Everytime you turn around some big name brand is going outrageously far out its way to shut down something that is not related to their brand.

    But I guess that's what happens when you depend on an expensive name rather than a good product to make money...

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

  4. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 11:57am


    "So if they had been made from real LV bags it would have been fine?"

    That's the implication of their complaint.

    It's really bizarre, when you think about it. Could the Dial Corporation have shut down Warhol for exhibiting 'counterfeit' Brillo boxes?

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

  5. icon
    kyle clements (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 12:12pm

    This is extremely shocking to me.

    Typically, putting something under the umbrella of "Art" keeps you safe from these sorts of things.

    some examples: I once attended an art exhibit with computers and CD burners on display, where people were invited to download mp3s, burn them to disk, and take the CDs with them. The show was intended to be a commentary on how people consume music in the digital era.

    Another example: An artist placed a pile of cocaine in the middle of the gallery, and for the duration of the show, he sat in a corner, blindfolded. people were only allowed to enter one at a time, and if they so wished, they could snort some. I think the show was supposed to be saying something about self-control and surveillance, but I did not attend this show, I only read about it after the fact.

    And these shows both went off without a hitch. Under the umbrella of art, these activities were not a problem. The show must go on.

    So...snorting coke in a gallery is fine, but using some Louis Vuitton logos in your art is a show stopper.

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

  6. icon
    Richard (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 12:12pm


    Surely it is parody - or doesn't that work for trademarks?

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

  7. icon
    PopeHilarius (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 12:55pm

    Well it's a good thing LV got this show shut down to stop people from seeing the sculptures. Otherwise I would never have gotten to see them.

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

  8. icon
    Comboman (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 1:02pm

    Mythbusters is careful

    I'm sure Mythbusters will not be sued. They are very careful about these kinds of things (bluring out brand names on products under test, etc) and probably vet everything through Discovery's legal department before going to air. Remember the RFID tag show that was never aired?

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

  9. icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 2:02pm

    Sounds like their lawyers need a major beat-down.

    What a ludicrous bunch of schmucks their lawyers are, and the only way to deal with lawyers who abuse the legal system is to use extra-legal measures, like beating them to a bloody pulp, and possibly maiming them for life in the process. It's just so much more viscerally satisfying than something like counter-suing them. And, they may take a lesson from it, but I doubt that.

    But, as always, there simply is no justice in this world, because the lawyers have rendered the term obsolete. If someone were to unceremoniously beat the living crap out of one of these parasitic turds, I would be happy to contribute to their legal defense, assuming, of course that they actually ever get caught. No guarantees of that, is there? Lawyer whacking goes on all the time, sometimes right in the courtroom. I have no problem with that if they deserve it, which most of them truly do.

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

  10. icon
    nasch (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Mythbusters is careful

    Remember the RFID tag show that was never aired?

    Of course not!

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

  11. identicon
    johnny canada, 29 Jun 2010 @ 2:42pm

    Mythbuster have an answer to these sort of lawsuits, I think it has to do with one of their favorite items "C4"

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

  12. icon
    Eugene (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 5:40pm


    A very good point.

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

  13. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 29 Jun 2010 @ 6:07pm

    Re: Re: Mythbusters is careful

    See here for more info on the aborted RFID sequence.

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

  14. icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), 30 Jun 2010 @ 10:02am

    Re: Mythbusters is careful

    They're very careful yes.

    Though there may be a couple of other reasons.

    1) The Leather Cannon didn't work.
    2) Mythbusters tends to blow things up at the end of an episode and they might carry that over to the end of a lawsuit! :-)

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

  15. identicon
    123, 9 Aug 2010 @ 11:14pm

    the "mb" on the "cannon" doesn't resemble the "vl" on the grasshopper. they're both a pair of uppercase letters, with squarish serif fonts. but are overlaid differently and consist of different letters.

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

  16. identicon
    alex, 23 Aug 2010 @ 7:52am


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

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