Louis Vuitton Malletier v Dooney & Bourke Inc.
In this famous case known as the “Battle of the Handbags” Louis Vuitton (LV) sues Dooney & Burke (D&B) for trademark infringement of its multicolore line. The Plaintiff, Louis Vuitton Malletier ,is a French fashion house founded in 1854 by Louis Vuitton. The famous label is well known for its LV monogram, which is featured on most of its products. Louis Vuitton is considered as one of the world’s most valuable and prestigious brands. The LV monogram was created in 1896 by Louis’ son Georges Vuitton who invented the symbol and the letters represent his father’s initials. The logo is a Japanese-inspired flower motif which initially was created as a way to prevent counterfeiting. This memorable logo is now synonymous with luxury, brilliance and indulgence. It is the world's 29th most valuable brand and is estimated to be worth over $19 billion USD. Unfortunately, Louis Vuitton is one of the most counterfeited brands in the fashion world due to its image as a status symbol. The company takes counterfeiting seriously, and uses all its possible resources to fight counterfeiting. The Defendant, Dooney & Bourke, is an American company founded in 1975 by Peter Dooney and Frederic Bourke. The company specializes in fashion accessories and is best known for its high quality handbags, accessories, and travel luggage. Their Signature and Mini Signature handbags consist of the "DB" initials interlocking in a repeating pattern. The founders of the company started off with two introductory products: surcingle belts and suspenders for men. Their products became very popular due to their unique design and color. Now Dooney & Bourke is a well-known brand in America and has a good reputation for making quality products.The defining look of Dooney & Bourke is elegant and sophisticated, but above all, it is timeless. Its classic designs make these handbags the perfect accessory for any outfit due to the superior quality and unique form. In 2002, the designer Marc Jacobs invited the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to come up with a fresh take on the Louis Vuitton ''toile monogram'' famous entwined LV logo intermixed with flower shapes for a new line of bags. This led to the creation of the Monogram Multicolore design, in 33 colors, displayed on handbags in a repeating pattern against a white or black background. The bags made their debut on Paris runways in October 2002 and were then presented in prestige retail outlets in March 2003, where they sold for up to $3,950. Previously LV registered its famous LV monogram design pattern and the individual unique shapes as trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In July 2003 D&B in collaboration with Teen Vogue developed a new line of handbags for teenagers. It was launched as the “It Bag” collection. The pattern on the purses consisted of the entwined “DB” initials printed in contracting colors on variety of colored backgrounds and white and black background. D&B’s released handbag line looked similar to Louis Vuitton's trendy model, but the price was significantly lower. Considering the fact that Louis Vuitton fights counterfeiting very aggressively, not surprisingly, the matter ended up in the courts.
LV immediately viewed the “It Bag” as a copy of their design. When Louis Vuitton gathered with legal counsel on their options to file suit against Dooney and Bourke, they became aware of the alternatives that were available to them in order to move forward. For designers and manufacturers in the American Fashion industry, there are four possible avenues to explore: 1) Copyright protection, 2) Patent protection, 3) Trade Dress protection and 4) Trademark protection. Copyright protection covers a range of categories including literacy, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial and architectural works. Within this range, the only one that is applicable to fashion designs is pictorial, as it shields two- and three-...
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