Louis Vuitton loses “Hangover 2” copyright infringement case

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Louis Vuitton doesn’t think taking liberties with its trademark is a laughing matter, even when the alleged infringement is for the sake of a joke.

The company recently sued Warner Brothers after the movie studio allegedly used a knockoff Louis Vuitton bag in last summer’s hit “The Hangover 2.” Although it lost its case, the luxury goods maker’s aggressive position is a model for any party that wants to make sure it is doing enough to protect its intellectual property assets.

The genesis for the lawsuit was a scene in “The Hangover 2” in which it appears a character has a Louis Vuitton suitcase. However, the company itself thinks the bag was a knockoff made by a notorious Chinese imitation-peddler.

Warner Brothers didn’t address the issue of whether the bag was fake, but it pointed out that the entire point of having the film character holding a Louis Vuitton was to underscore the fact that he is a hypocrite and isn’t as sophisticated or genteel as he wants people to think he is. So, if the bag were fake, it would actually further the joke.

A judge sided with the movie studio, opining that because the bag was onscreen for less than 30 seconds, no one was likely to be confused. Even so, lawsuits such as this one send a strong message that the holder of intellectual property rights is not likely to take any disrespect and will go after anyone who thinks about abusing its intellectual property assets.

Source: The Mail Online, “Louis Vuitton loses court battle against Warner Brothers after Hangover 2 used fake bag instead of the real deal,” June 18, 2012