A Manhattan federal judge has ruled in favor of Dooney & Bourke in a four-year trademark battle with Louis Vuitton.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin said Dooney & Bourke's "It Bag" monogram design did not infringe on Vuitton's Monograme Multicolore handbag collection.
"[Louis Vuitton] offered no proof that the similarities in the marks is likely to confuse ordinary consumers, whether it is at the point of initial interest, point-of-sale, or post-sale," Scheindlin wrote in a decision issued Friday.
Although she acknowledged the similarities between the two designs, Scheindlin noted Vuitton's LV mark used a larger font size and consisted of "a combination of letters and shapes," while the Dooney & Bourke design featured an unadorned DB.
"Even the testimony of Louis Vuitton's director of intellectual property suggests Louis Vuitton's infringement claim is not necessarily premised on a likelihood of confusion between its products and those of [the] defendant, but rather Louis Vuitton's distaste at being associated with the 'It Bags,'" the judge wrote.
Noting the history of the case, Scheindlin wrote, "This action has pitted two prominent handbag manufacturers against each other and mired them in seemingly endless and often contentious litigation."
Vuitton said it would appeal the ruling.
"Louis Vuitton respectfully disagrees with the judge's decision on the motion," said a spokeswoman. "There are numerous material issues of fact in this case that warrant consideration by a jury."
Trademark cases have become common in the industry as companies vie to protect their brands and refined manufacturing processes and international trade makes quick-turn mass production easier. Such cases are often settled out of court.
In its April 2004 complaint, the division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton alleged that Dooney & Bourke's "It Bag" line featuring a DB monogram infringed on its Monogram Multicolore handbag collection, which has a colorful LV monogram and was a collaboration with artist Takashi Murakami. Much of the judge's 54-page opinion dealt with whether the monograms could be mistaken for each other.
"The consumers weren't confused and the court wasn't confused and the experts weren't confused," said Thomas McAndrew, an attorney for Dooney & Bourke.Vuitton won an early battle in the case in 2006, when an appeals court reversed a ruling by Scheindlin that denied Vuitton a preliminary injunction and sent the case back to the judge.
Vuitton introduced bags featuring its LV design in the "Murakami colors" in October 2002. The bags were a hit. By late 2006, sales reached almost $145 million, court papers said. Prices range from less than $150 for a mirror case and reach into the thousands.
In 2003, Dooney & Bourke introduced the "It Bag," which also featured a colorful monogram logo. The bag retailed for less than $50 up to the hundreds. By late 2006, the line had generated sales of more than $100 million.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast