Pooey Puitton Proactively Sues The Shit Out Of Louis Vuitton

from the doo-doo dept

All one needs to do to get a sense of how Louis Vuitton, famed maker of bags, views trademark law is do a short review of past stories it's been involved in on this site. What you will come away with is the clear sense of the company as laughably litigious, insanely aggressive in bullying others, and as being entirely devoid of having anything resembling a sense of humor or respect for parody.

And that last bit appears to be resulting in yet another dispute, this time between Louis Vuitton and MGA Entertainment Inc., which makes the Pooey Puitton toy handbag. And, yes, that toy handbag is literally shaped like a piece of poop. Apparently, Louis Vuitton has been making comments to some of MGA's commercial clients that the toy handbag infringes its trademarks, leading to MGA filing suit against LV asking for a declaratory judgement that its parody bag is not in fact infringing.

In a complaint filed on Friday in Los Angeles federal court, MGA Entertainment Inc said no reasonable consumer would mistake Pooey Puitton, which retails for $59.99, for costlier Louis Vuitton handbags.

“The use of the Pooey name and Pooey product in association with a product line of ‘magical unicorn poop’ is intended to criticize or comment upon the rich and famous, the Louis Vuitton name, the LV marks, and on their conspicuous consumption."

All of which puts the Pooey Puitton bag squarely in the category of protected parody. Beyond that, any claim that the public is going to look at the bag as anything other than a joke played on upon LV, rather than having association with the company, is pretty laughable.

But my interest is centered around LV's apparent thinking that anyone is going to mistake a literal piece-of-shit handbag, and think that it was made by Louis Vuitton. That doesn't seem to me to be the kind of claim a luxury handbag maker would want to make, yet here we sit. Or, more likely, the Louis Vuitton folks simply can't help themselves from failing to appreciate the joke and instead have to go the bullying route.


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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 7 Jan 2019 @ 3:55pm

    Think ofr th epurses

    How can they continue to make overpriced handbags if other people are allowed to make bags, with handles?
    This case should have been settled by declaring that people aren't allowed to make fun of them - which is really what this was about. Not confusion, but criticism.

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

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 7 Jan 2019 @ 5:28pm

      Re: Think ofr th epurses

      That's the real issue here - they're angry that someone is making fun of them, and the trademark threats were about getting revenge. Well, the last laugh's on them. Pooey shouldn't have any trouble getting a declarative judgment here.

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

  • icon
    Matthew Cline (profile), 7 Jan 2019 @ 4:40pm

    Lawyers creating billable hours?

    Maybe Louis Vuitton has told its lawyers to take on the job of tracking down trademark infringers, so their lawyers sue anything that moves so as to generate more billable hours. If so, Vuitton really needs to put their lawyers on a leash.

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

  • identicon
    Sharur, 7 Jan 2019 @ 4:49pm

    To play devil's advocate, parody is a fair use defense, which is decided on a "I know it when I see it" basis, which I think needs to be reworked (which will then probably lead to people trying to game the system, but I wonder if that would not be better than what we have now).

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 7 Jan 2019 @ 5:10pm

    He don't know shit from Shinola." (I always wondered how the Shinola people felt about that. "Hi! I'm the new man from Shinola!" "Hi, how are ya? Nice to see ya.") "I don't know whether to shit or wind my watch. Guess I'll shit on my watch."

    - George Carlin

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

    • identicon
      carlb, 7 Jan 2019 @ 5:34pm

      Re: shinola?

      Shinola was originally a brand of shoe polish.

      The use of the name for an assembled-in-D├ętroit wristwatch is a relative neologism.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Jan 2019 @ 5:57pm

    'You said it, not me.'

    I mean, if they really want to argue that people who see a handbag shaped like a pile of crap will immediately think 'Vuitton' they can, and I would certainly agree with them, but it does seem rather like an admission that people already have 'crap' and 'Vuitton' linked in their minds, and making that clear in legal documents seems like an odd way to go about business.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2019 @ 3:03am

      Re: 'You said it, not me.'

      On the other hand, if LV can convince a judge that its products are indistinguishable from crap, then that opens up fantastic possibilities for legal action. Producers of toilet seats, sewage pipes, and manure had better watch out.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Jan 2019 @ 6:26pm

    That time that they expected a silly lawsuit to come from LV, and the lighting never struck... so they made their own storm.

    LV sues over Shitty Bag

    How much would that advertising have cost them to get?
    LV didn't play their usual role of sue first, pay bills later.
    Instead they tried a whisper campagin to kill off the product by making baseless threats.... one does wonder what business model exists selling LV bags the the Pooey bag together.

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

  • icon
    Spointman (profile), 7 Jan 2019 @ 8:48pm

    I'm kind of surprised they didn't throw in a contractual interference claim as well. If someone told one of my customers that the product they were buying from me could be considered infringing, and that both I and the customer could be "in trouble," that would likely make my customer think twice about buying from me.

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

  • identicon
    @b, 7 Jan 2019 @ 11:08pm

    Jurisdiction?

    But wouldn't it be that LV (a French company) is dragging MGA (a US company) into a French courtroom?

    It is a large assumption to presume that a "clear" copyright exemption for parody handbags in your US law will be a slam dunk in a foreign courtroom.

    What am I missing?

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

    • icon
      Spointman (profile), 7 Jan 2019 @ 11:50pm

      Re: Jurisdiction?

      Mostly that MGA is a California company operating in the US. This case is filed in a US court. LVMH may try to retaliate in France, but that's another story for another day.

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

  • icon
    Jeroen (profile), 8 Jan 2019 @ 1:00am

    LV is already infamous for its abuse of shady legal procedures, for example this ugly case: https://aandalawblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/louis-vuitton-attempts-to-ban-dafurnica.html (which was later overturned, after some legal wrangling involving a judge being assigned to handle his own appeal, which of course also is unacceptable.)

    I guess, the attack here is the best defence.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2019 @ 5:29am

    ummm

    which picture is the toy?

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

  • icon
    Wolfie0827 (profile), 8 Jan 2019 @ 7:35am

    I could see confusion arising, I mean I all ready associate LV's products as overpriced shit!

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

  • identicon
    thedigitari, 8 Jan 2019 @ 11:54am

    No shit

    This could be a win for LV if they wanted too
    Create an AD saying "LV,no shit".

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


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