Two retailers have sued Louis Vuitton seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement in response to a cease and desist letter sent by the feisty French perpetual knockoff victim:
J. Marcus Wholesaler Inc. of Pittsburgh and The Paradies Shops Inc. of Atlanta said their federal lawsuit, filed Friday in Pittsburgh, was in response to Louis Vuitton’s claim that the bags violate its exclusive Damier design. …
[T]he Checkerboard bags, which sell from $9.99 to $39.99 (â‚¬8 to â‚¬31), are “inexpensive fabric travel bags,” not made of leather or imitation leather, and have a thread pattern “distinctly different” from the Louis Vuitton design, the lawsuit claims.
When I used to do work for LVMH, we sometimes called the “Damier” design the “checkerboard.” It certainly is a registered trademark, but it’s a real question just how broad the protection LVMH is going to get for it. It’s a question LVMH almost certainly does not want answered. Having that lack of resolution as a policy goal, and having an aggressive cease-and-desist strategy for those who come close to the line, however, are not compatible policies.
UPDATE: Here’s the stipulated order: LVMH calls the declaratory judgment plaintiffs on this; raises them a counterclaim; and gets a permanent injunction. Good try. I guess.