April 2019. French fashion house Louis Vuitton was unlikely to be happy about a make-up case bearing the name Pooey Puitton being marketed by toy retailer MGA Entertainment. Surprisingly, though, it’s not Louis Vuitton who’s taking legal proceedings, but MGA, who’s asked the court to rule that its Pooey Puitton case doesn’t infringe Louis Vuitton’s trademark rights.
MGA’s Pooey Puitton make-up case
STEALING A MARCH
MGA’s unexpected move doesn’t of course come out of thin air. Last December, Louis Vuitton had already expressed displeasure over the make-up case. In that case, we’ll steal a march on them and go on the attack ourselves, the toy giant probably said to itself.
The fact that the design of MGA’s Pooey Puitton case was ‘inspired’ by the world-famous Louis Vuitton bag isn’t at issue. MGA is instead arguing that no rational consumer would ever confuse its plastic, poo-shaped Pooeye Puitton toy case with the exclusive handbags made by Louis Vuitton. And if there’s no risk of confusion, then there’s no trademark infringement, claims MGA. According to MGA its product is an obvious parody.
There’s no doubt that in Europe, a joke of this kind (with commercial intent) would be seen as a straightforward infringement of the rights of Louis Vuitton. In the US, however, things could be seen differently, as Louis Vuitton itself can testify.
Some years ago, the French fashion giant instigated legal proceedings in the US against Chewy Vuiton, a canine chewy toy in the shape of a little plush bag. However, Louis Vuitton lost its case. The court concluded it was a clear parody and that there was no risk of public confusion. Now let’s see what happens with the make-up case.