The fight between high-end designer handbag maker Louis Vuitton and Los Angeles based tote bag maker My Other Bag has been dragging on for years, with neither side backing down from litigation. Tara Martin is the CEO of My Other Bag and suggests the purpose of the bags is to provide stylish eco-conscious reusable bag options to customers. But, using the Louis Vuitton pattern on one of the ‘parody’ bags has certainly ruffled some of Vuitton’s feathers.
A BRIEF SUMMARY: The case began in 2014 when Louis Vuitton filed suit against My Other Bag in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging that My Other Bag’s use of Louis Vuitton’s designs constituted willful trademark infringement and diluted the value of the famous Louis Vuitton designs. The Southern District of New York denied Louis Vuitton’s claims, holding that My Other Bag’s use was an obvious parody and thus fair use of the trademarks. Unsatisfied with this result, Louis Vuitton appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling in favor of My Other Bag.
In the most recent version of events, still unsatisfied Louis Vuitton sought to further appeal to the Supreme Court by filing a petition for writ of certiorari. Louis Vuitton argued that the Supreme Court should hear the challenge because it had “far-reaching significance for countless owners of famous and distinctive marks that, like Louis Vuitton, depend on the protections of [the Federal trademark dilution statute] to safeguard their intellectual property against improper dilutive uses.” Louis Vuitton believed that the decision by the Second Circuit leaves famous mark owners “vulnerable to widespread dilution through the production of imitation products marketed under the guise of ‘parody.'”
However, despite Louis Vuitton’s plea, it was announced this week that the Supreme Court would not hear Louis Vuitton’s appeal. As is common for Supreme Court denials, the Court denied the petition without comment. Thus, conclusively, the decision by the Second Circuit is upheld, and My Other Bag’s use of Louis Vuitton’s trademarks without a license is permitted.
Emboldened by these results, My Other Bag has filed a request for attorneys’ fees before the district court in excess of $900,000 for work including the appeals. My Other Bag argues that the case is exceptional and it should be awarded attorneys’ fees because the case was “manifestly lacking” in merit and because Louis Vuitton did not file the case to win on the merits. Rather, My Other Bag claims that the purpose of the suit was to “bully” a “one-woman business that lacked the resources” to fight the infringement claim. The request for attorneys’ fees is currently pending.
The request for attorneys’ fees is currently pending.