A small company selling cheap canvass totes has won a trademark case citing the use of parody as its defence.
MOB claimed parody defence
Louis Vuitton had pursued Los Angeles company 'My Other Bag' (MOB) for selling cheap totes using its trademark. MOB, which displayed a range of luxury designers on its bags, including Balenciaga, YSL and Celine, claimed that trademark and copyright liability did not apply to it as its bags were parodies. However, Louis Vuitton claimed MOB was not only infringing its federally registered trademarks and copyrights, but that it was also diluting the "distinctive quality" of Louis Vuitton’s world-famous trademarks by displaying it on the canvas tote bags. Louis Vuitton's Supreme Court petition said it had devoted more than a century to 'developing, promoting, and protecting trademarks that are universally recognised symbols of the company’s products and that constitute a guarantee of the products’ origin and quality.' It claimed that MOB had sought to capitalise on the distinctiveness and positive public perception of the luxury giant's marks by displaying otherwise-ordinary canvas bags with Louis Vuitton's logo on one side and the words My Other Bag on the other side.
The judges backed an earlier ruling on trademark dilution by a New York court that the canvas totes were protected by trademark's parody defence. A separate claim of trademark infringement was also lost - with the judges citing a number of reasons including lack of evidence of customer confusion. Louis Vuitton was represented by Robert Shapiro of Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg whilst David Korzenik of Miller Korzenik Sommers Rayman acted for My Other Bag.