Monday, November 17, 2008

Chew on this

I have not done nearly enough this semester to share with you the entertaining cases in my classes! Of which there are many! (Many entertaining cases, and many classes.)

Tonight I read for Trademarks the case of Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Haute Diggity Dog. It seems the latter company made a parody line of cheap dog toys and dog beds and other dog accessories called "Chewy Vuiton." This did not sit well with the fancy-schmancy handbag manufacturer, who sued for trademark infringement.

Well, in short they lost. But that's not the fun part. The case is hilarious because the court throws around a lot of cheesy plays on words, such as saying they have to sniff out the applicable law. I personally liked when one of the customers swore in a deposition, "If I really thought a $10 toy made out of fluff and stuff was an actual Louis Vuitton product, I would be stupid." Indeed.

The high-end plaintiffs try to argue that "Chewy Vuiton" will "dilute" their trademark. Now, dilution is an actual doctrine of trademark law, but it doesn't apply here, because far from lessening the strength of Louis Vuitton's mark, this parody actually depends on people recognizing what Louis Vuitton is and that this ain't it. Chewy Vuiton wouldn't be funny and it wouldn't succeed if it DID dilute, you see.

Nonetheless, Louis Vuitton argues that there is confusion because they make a few ultra high-end pet products, namely leather collars and leashes that range in price from $215 to $1600. However, as the court points out, the Chewy Vuiton products aren't fancy leashes but rather toys to chew that are around $20 and beds made to sleep on or "find other, more creative ways to desecrate." Basically, even with the few pet products Louis Vuitton makes, there is no overlap and no likelihood of confusion.

So, Louis Vuitton loses, and I support that outcome. But this begs one more very important question:

Who the hell would spend $1000 on a freakin' dog leash?!?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!

And can I please meet that person -- I have some high-end student loans I'd like to discuss.

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