Dubai-based graphic designer Lara Atkinson combined high fashion entities and popsicles for a cute and very likely infringing summer project. The result of a collaboration between Atkinson and a high fashion department store in the U.A.E., signage was strewn across buildings and adorned on ice cream trucks, bearing the Louis Vuitton, Burberry, McQueen, and Kenzo names, alongside colorful popsicles, inspired by the design houses’ Spring 2013 collections.
The “fashion pops” themselves could be purchased at various pop-up shops and popsicle vans parked in popular spots throughout the city this passed summer. According to Atkinson, “This is a collaboration inspired by the most iconic S/S 13 fashion collections and the summer popsicle fad. After choosing popsicle shapes and colours that resemble the collections closely, we transformed what we saw into matching flavours to accessories the fashion pack of Dubai throughout the hot summer months.”
Atkinson’s foray into high fashion ice cream is certainly cute. The problem is: You can’t just slap the Louis Vuitton or Burberry name on your product and sell it without the authorization to do so. Brand names are quite often federally registered trademarks (that likely apply in Dubai given Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, McQueen and Burberry’s physical presence in Dubai via numerous brick and mortar stores and online service).
Moreover, trademarks are extremely valuable assets to design houses, and ones that they protect quite vigilantly, as that is the trademark holder’s duty. Having said this, and knowing a bit about Kering (which owns McQueen) and LVMH’s (which owns Kenzo and Louis Vuitton) zealous efforts to protect its trademarks from becoming generic, I find it highly unlikely that the design houses signed off on this project.
That makes this trademark infringement by way of trademark dilution – because the design houses at issue here do not appear to have registered their marks in Class 1, which applies to food. Thus, they would have to argue dilution, which is the reduction, or is likelihood of reduction, of the public’s perception that the famous mark signifies something unique, singular or particular.
Because Louis Vuitton has registered its mark in Class 16, which specifically covers plastic materials for packaging, they could potentially sue for trademark infringement in regards to that specific class, as the ice cream bars designed by Atkinson bear a plastic package with the Louis Vuitton mark.
* The United Arab Emirates is not a party to the Madrid Protocol, and thus, not subject to international registration of U.S. trademarks. As a result, much of this piece is speculation as to what the trademark system in Dubai entails. Whether the design houses listed above actually have trademark claims depends specifically on U.A.E. trademark law, which I will not go into in this piece.