LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (MC) sued Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Brothers Entertainment unit for trademark infringement last week in New York federal court. Louis Vuitton, the famed luxury handbag and luggage maker, claims that a duffle bag used in the film “The Hangover: Part II” was fake, despite the fact that Alan, the Zach Galifianakis character, refers to it as real. You can see a shot of Alan and his “Louis Vuitton” luggage here at the Clothes On Film blog. Louis Vuitton says that Alan’s “Careful, that’s a Louis Vuitton” line has become a popular catchphrase and that the movie has produced consumer confusion. Its lawsuit also claims that there has been gossip and Internet buzz about whether or not Alan’s bag is real.
But the complaint (posted in full here by Paid Content) alleges that the bag not genuine and is instead made by the Chinese American company Diophy, which Louis Vuitton is currently suing at the International Trade Commission in an attempt to prevent knock-off items from being sold in the U.S.
Vuitton states that it does authorize product placement in movies, but only with its permission and only with genuine products. According to Louis Vuitton, Warner is ignoring the general practice in the movie industry of clearing the use of a branded product with the brand owner.
In addition to an award of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees, Louis Vuitton seeks an order barring the advertising, promotion and distribution of the film (as well as the destruction of all copies of the film) that contain any scenes with the allegedly infringing bag,
Despite being critically panned, the movie has certainly drawn a lot of litigation. In April, the tattoo artist who created Mike Tyson’s distinctive tattoo sued over the use of that design in the film. That case settled in June for undisclosed terms. In addition, an Australian stunt man who sustained physical injuries while filming a botched car chase scene also filed a suit against Warner Bros, as did a screenwriter who claimed his ideas were stolen and used in the movie’s script.
The duffle bag case is Louis Vuitton Malletier SA v. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 1:11-cv-09436-ALC, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.