Luxury Louis Vuitton seeks Supreme Court review of parody case


Fashion house Louis Vuitton has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the US Supreme Court in a parody dispute with a company called My Other Bag.

The July 13 petition follows the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s decision to deny rehearing the case after it had affirmed a lower ruling that rejected Louis Vuitton’s claims.

Louis Vuitton had filed a trademark claim against MOB, alleging that tote bags featuring drawings meant to evoke iconic handbags on one side and “My Other Bag” on the other infringed and diluted its famous brand. It also argued that MOB infringed its copyright.

But in 2016 the fashion company’s case was rejected at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, before the Second Circuit upheld the decision. In February this year, the appeals court refused to rehear the case.

When surveyed, WIPR readers were closely split over whether the Second Circuit should have agreed to rehear the parody dispute: 55% of respondents believed the court should not grant the appeal, with one reader claiming that the case was “trivial”.

In its rehearing request, Louis Vuitton said the Second Circuit based its finding of a parody “solely on its subjective view” that the replica handbags were “obviously a joke”.

The fashion company added that the court “made no mention of the record evidence” that established that “consumers did not perceive MOB’s products as a joke, or even social commentary, but rather as a fashion accessory to complement, or even substitute for, the LV replica bags they owned or wanted”.

If the Supreme Court takes on the case, it would see the justices tackle yet another fashion-related IP case in recent times.

In March this year, the court ruled in Star Athletica v Varsity Brands that decorative elements of a cheerleading uniform may be protected by copyright law, in what one lawyer described as a “sigh of relief for fashion innovators and IP lawyers alike”.