An Unending Hangover for The Hangover Part II—Trademark Action and the Imposter Bag

The artist who designed Mike Tyson’s famous face tattoo wasn’t the only IP holder to sue over the Hangover Party II. Luxury retailer Louis Vuitton filed a trademark infringement action, claiming that the film featured a knockoff version of one of its designer bags.

Louis Vuitton’s complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York on December 22, after Warner Brothers allegedly failed to respond to a cease-and-desist letter from Louis Vuitton.  The complaint focuses on an opening scene in the film, in which the main characters are in an airport.  Zach Galifianakis’ character (“Alan”) sits down on a bench, places his bag on an empty seat next to him, and warns one of the other characters, “[c]areful that is . . . that is a Louis Vuitton.”  According to the complaint, Alan’s bag is not a genuine Louis Vuitton bag.  Rather, alleges Louis Vuitton, it is a counterfeit bag made by the so-called Diophy group of companies.  The Diophy group of companies are subjects of an ITC investigation in which Louis Vuitton is seeking a general exclusion order preventing the importation of counterfeit products that infringe the decades-old Louis Vuitton marks.

Louis Vuitton’s complaint against Warner Brothers alleges that “it is custom and practice in the film industry that, when branded products are to be used in a movie, a motion picture studio requests and the brand owner provides express consent with respect to the use of its branded products in a movie.  Moviegoers and consumers who purchase and/or view recorded versions of the movie thus are likely to presume that branded products shown in a movie are authentic.”  The complaint further claims that “[b]y using the infringing Diophy Bag and affirmatively misrepresenting that it is a Louis Vuitton bag, the public is likely to be confused into believing that the Diophy Bag is an authentic Louis Vuitton product.”  The complaint asserts causes of action for false designation of origin, unfair competition, and trademark dilution, and seeks monetary damages as well as a permanent injunction preventing distribution of any version of the film that contains scenes with the allegedly-infringing bag.

The irony created by “Alan’s” concern over an imposter bag makes the scene even funnier than if his bag were genuine.  That said, assuming the allegations in the complaint are true, Louis Vuitton has a right to not be impressed by this irony.

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Posted on February 20, 2012, in Infringement, Trademark and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on An Unending Hangover for The Hangover Part II—Trademark Action and the Imposter Bag.

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