Louis Vuitton – Long live freedom of expression

Ever since 2008 when Danish artist Nadia Plesner designed a T-shirt with an African child on it holding a Louis Vuitton-like bag in her hand, there has been a fight with Louis Vuitton. In 2008 the T shirt was prohibited in France.   

This year the fight flared up again because the image resurfaced on a painting: “Darfurnica”. A contemporary version of Picasso's Guernica, that must be seen as an indictment of the (Western) World. The humanitarian disaster in Darfur is symbolized by the thin African child with the hotly debated bag on her arm. To prevent abuse and to tackle counterfeiting Louis Vuitton has registered the design of the bag in the European register. Louis Vuitton was shocked by the action and started a procedure which resulted in an immediate prohibition with a penalty of € 5,000 per day. The artist objected, however. As an artist, freedom of expression should still prevail over the design rights from the manufacturer. This is a clash between two fundamental rights, but the Judge decided that free speech should prevail. The earlier decision was reversed completely, including all penalties.


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MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?
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