Chewier than ever

Notwithstanding my own bouts of sympathy for the blighters, you have to admit it just looks like the folks at Louis Vuitton are getting so bad at taking a joke that the joke is becoming them.

First it was the matter of Chewy Vuitton, the case where Vuitton’s “the-dog-ate-my-trademark” argument was hounded out of the Second Circuit.

Now it looks like more parody blues involving the case blogged about here a couple of months ago in which LVMH seems to possibly be risking the whole ball of trademark-dilution wax in another Second Circuit appeal, as reported by Alison Frankel.

In her piece, Alison noted, and I quoted her to the effect, that “Louis Vuitton, of course, is famous for its inability to tolerate any ribbing.”  So while there hasn’t been a decision in Louis Vuitton v. My Other Bag (case number 16-241), this report from Pete Brush of Law360 dated December 7, 2016 doesn’t bode well for the French everything-luxurious-maker’s appeal — or the feeling its feeling in its legendary missing funny bone:

Second Circuit Judge Gerard E. Lynch laughed at counsel for Louis Vuitton Malletier SA on Wednesday as the litigious luxury bagmaker asked for the revival of its failed trademark dilution and copyright infringement suit targeting the maker of a canvas tote that reads “My Other Bag …” and sports cartoons of high-priced brands.

Lynch, part of a three-judge panel presiding over arguments that had been set to last 20 minutes but stretched over an hour and took a deep dive into the meaning of the word “parody,” was not buying Louis Vuitton’s argument that it is entitled to a trial.

His fit of clearly visible mirth came during an exchange where Louis Vuitton counsel Robert E. Shapiro of Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP asserted with a very straight face that that the defendant did not intend to parody the luxury brand.

“This is a joke. I understand you don’t get the joke. But it’s a joke,” Judge Lynch said.

When U.S. District Judge M. Furman granted summary judgment to the defendant in January, he also found that the luxury bagmen didn’t get the joke. “In some cases … it is better to accept the implied compliment in a parody and to smile or laugh than it is to sue,” Judge Furman wrote. “This … is such a case.”

Later, when Shapiro revisited his contention that Louis Vuitton is entitled to ask a jury whether the “My Other Bag” tote created a “likelihood” that its marks face marketplace dilution, Judge Lynch said a jury would laugh him out of court.

“You just want to bully them into spending the money on a trial,” Judge Lynch said.

He’s just kidding, of course.  All in fun. Right, Louis?

UPDATE:  He who laughs last… — affirmed.

Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

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