September 2, 2014

Drug Company and Brian Lichtenberg Settled Suit

The Fashion Law Exclusive – There has been a major update in the AbbVie v. Brian Lichtenberg & Kitson case. You may recall that AbbVie, the owner of Vicodan, slapped Lichtenberg, Kitson and a few others with a federal trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition lawsuit in the California Central District Court in Los Angeles in November. The suit stems from the sale of Lichtenberg’s designer drug t-shirts, the jersey-style tees adorned with several prescription drug names, such as Vicodin, Xanax and Adderall, which caused quite a bit of  controversy when they hit stores this past summer. Last month, AbbVie won the first round, as the court granted its preliminary injunction, ordering the defendants “not to make the shirts available to the public.” And as of today, the parties have settled the lawsuit.


One matter that is still pending, the rival lawsuits between Brian Lichtenberg (Kitson is defendant in this lawsuit, too) and his brother Chris Lichtenberg and his brand, Alex & Chloe. Christopher Lichtenberg filed his  lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in March 2013 alleging that his brother Brian stole the design of his BALLIN PARIS (a Balmain “parody”) tee. Brian subsequently filed a nearly identical lawsuit in federal court in September, complete with a bunch of hearsay documents as “proof” that it was he, who created the BALLIN design. Last thing we heard, this family drama-turned-legal proceeding is still pending. Now all we need is for Paris-based design house, Balmain, to file a trademark infringement lawsuit against both brothers for trademark infringement. And while Balmain does, in fact, have grounds so file suit, as it has several federally registered trademarks that extend to its name in the specific font that both Lichtenberg brothers are using on their “parodies”, it doesn’t look like that is going to happen.

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One Comment

  1. Liam Randhawa
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    This matter is complicated by the seeming altruism of Mr. Lichtenberg. Kitson’s website proudly declared that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this collection will be donated to The Medicine Abuse Project. At first, I thought that this would seem to be a point in Mr. Lichtenberg’s favor. The drug companies would surely appear greedy to sue somebody who was just mildly spoofing their products, and donating proceeds of his sales to charity, to boot.

    Interestingly, the charity has publicly stated that it wants nothing to do with this line of tees, and refuses to accept any direct donation from Kitson while they flagrantly, and without remorse, continue to sell these products. In fact, one of the elements of trademark violation is the likelihood of consumer confusion regarding the approval and sponsorship of trademarked goods. The seeming philanthropy, then, actually hurts Mr. Lichtenberg as it suggests a non-existent association with the prescription brand drugs. On the other hand, Mr. Lichtenberg is quite well known for parody-tees, many of which I own myself, and it is improbable that anyone would believe that these teesare in any way related to the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture them.

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