Court Rules for Warner Bros. in LV Case

Just last week we were speculating that maybe the Louis Vuitton vs. Waner Bros. lawsuit had settled due to the lack of information about it lately. Well, not only did the parties not settle, the court's opinion is out and its not looking good for the French luxury giant. Quick reminder: Louis Vuitton brought a trademark infringement suit against Warner Bros. back in 2011 for using a fake Louis bag in its film, The Hangover Part 2, and referring to it by name when Zach Galifianakis's character says, "careful, that is a Lewis [sic] Vuitton." LV's main argument was that consumers will be confused into believing that the fake bag is a genuine Louis Vuitton bag, which results in claims of trademark dilution, false designation of origin and unfair competition.

Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. of the Southern District of New York granted Warner Bros. motion to dismiss the case, and basically called Louis Vuitton's complaint a joke. The Court's opinion, dated June 15, 2012, states that Louis Vuitton’s allegations of confusion are "not plausible, let alone particularly compelling." Judge Carter noted that it is highly unlikely that an "appreciable number of people watching the Film would notice that the bag is a knock-off," and even if they did, they would not think that Louis Vuitton approved of Warner Brothers' use of the fake bag. As such, Carter held that LV's claim of confusion under the Lanham Act “is simply not plausible," especially when considering the First Amendment concerns that Warner Bros. cited, such as the right to use a fake bag for the purpose of the storyline.

Warner Bros.' motion to dismiss argues: "Rather, the issue is the freedom of the author to incorporate references to real life -- including references to trademarks and even to counterfeit goods -- in creating the expressive work. The ownership of a trademark confers many rights but not the right to alter or veto such creative expression." Interestingly, the bag at issue is actually a Diophy bag, which bears a striking resemblance to a monogram Louis Vuitton bag, especially when it is only on screen for a few seconds at a time (as it is in the film).

So, because the case has essentially been thrown out, Louis Vuitton will not be getting a portion of Warner Bros.' $500 million + profits from the film and Warner Bros. will not have to delete the scene from all distributions of the film from now on. A lawyer for Louis Vuitton declined to comment on the ruling.