A New York federal judge on Friday dismissed Louis Vuitton’s case against Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. over the use of counterfeit luggage in “The Hangover Part II.”
This story first appeared in the June 19, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In its complaint, which was filed in December, Louis Vuitton, a division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, said that the movie studio knowingly used fake bags made by Diophy, a group of U.S. and Chinese companies peddling knockoffs.
In 2010, the French brand brought the Diophy case before the U.S. International Trade Commission, which recently weighed in on that matter, ruling in favor of the luxury goods maker. That judgment, which includes an order to block the importation, sale and distribution of the knockoffs, must still be approved by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
But the French luxe house wasn’t as lucky this time.
Calling Louis Vuitton’s allegations “not plausible” or “particularly compelling,” presiding judge Andrew Carter threw out the lawsuit, which claimed that Warner Bros. ignored its pleas to not use fake bags in the comedy’s airport scene.
In that scene, Alan, a kind of lovable, pompous, disheveled idiot played by comedian Zach Galifianakis, carries luggage emblazoned with “LVM” and says to his costar: “Careful, that is a Louis Vuitton”— of course, butchering the pronunciation of the French brand’s name.
Judge Carter certainly wasn’t buying the claim that the bags used in the scene caused consumer confusion, a key allegation needed to prove trademark infringement, writing, in his opinion, “Louis Vuitton is trying to have it both ways: arguing that the Diophy bags are so similar as to create consumer confusion but at the same time so obviously dissimilar that someone watching the film would notice the slightly different symbols used on the Diophy bag.”
The judge added that the bag appears on-screen for just a few seconds and isn’t the main focus of the scene.
Louis Vuitton had originally asked for profits from the film, which grossed roughly $580 million, and triple damages, as well as the destruction of all copies of “The Hangover Part II,” along with promotional materials that include the airport scene with the fake bag.
The judge didn’t award any damages.
“We are deeply disappointed in the court’s decision,” the French company told WWD. “We remain committed to protecting our brand, and will remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent inappropriate and misleading use of our trademark for the benefit of our customers.”