After spending nearly two years fighting over whether My Other Bag (“MOB”)’s canvas totes infringe Louis Vuitton’s famed trademarks and copyrights, the Los Angeles-based brand – which was handed its latest victory when the Second Circuit refused to grant Louis Vuitton’s request for a rehearing – asked the court to force Louis Vuitton to pay nearly $400,000 in legal fees and Louis Vuitton is fighting back.
In June 2014, Louis Vuitton filed suit against the small brand known for its designer bag on a canvas bag styles, which include Balenciaga, Proenza Schouler, YSL, Celine, and obviously, Louis Vuitton lookalikes. The Paris-based brand alleged that the MOB bags not only infringe its federally registered trademarks and copyrights, serve to dilute its world-famous trademarks. Yet, in each round, Louis Vuitton has lost.
But the parties’ battle is not yet over, as in January MOB asked the court to order Louis Vuitton to foot its litigation bill, including its lawyers’ fees and other costs. In its Memorandum of Law in Support of [MOB's] Application for Award of Attorney's Fees, MOB’s legal counsel takes one last opportunity to slam Louis Vuitton, as it – and the court – have done throughout the litigation.
According to MOB’s filing, “Louis Vuitton Malletier has achieved a rare position among the royalty of fashion; it is one of the world’s leading brands. And as a cultural icon, it is not surprising that Louis Vuitton is often the subject of comment, not all of it favorable … Instead of responding to its critics with noblesse oblige, it treats parody as lèse majesté. Indeed … its history of legal threats and lawsuits has earned Louis Vuitton a reputation as a trademark bully.”
Additionally, MOB called for attorney’s fees due to the “need for greater deterrent to the bringing of weak cases because ‘aggressive and bullying enforcement tactics,’” seemingly likening the Paris-based brand to a troll (which in the legal world refers to an intellectual property-holding entity that tries to make money by threatening to sue (i.e. demanding a license fee from) anyone who could arguably be said to be using them without permission ("infringing them")).
As noted by Law360, “Louis Vuitton Malletier SA is pushing back on demands that it pay $800,000 in attorneys' fees after unsuccessfully suing a small company over parody bags, saying it’s ‘simply incorrect’ to compare the fashion house to a patent troll,’” as the brand is merely defending its valuable intellectual property rights.
* The case is Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. My Other Bag, Inc., 1:2014-cv-03419 (SDNY).