MOB bag a parody of Louis Vuitton - parody in trademark law

The court in New York has opened the door for parody in trademark law. My other Bag sells canvas bags with the test “My Other Bag” on the front and a drawing of a Louis Vuitton bag on the back side. The bag refers to the “my other car…” bumper stickers that were popular in the 70’s. Cars used to drive around with this sticker suggesting that the owner had another more luxurious car like a Mercedes. A joke that many Americans still remember today. Louis Vuitton does not appreciate the joke and files a lawsuit.

Its claim is based on its trademark and design rights. Use would be damaging to the image of Louis Vuitton and it would lead to dilution. My Other Bag claims that it is a parody that should be allowed. The consumer will immediately notice that it is a joke and no confusion can occur. The court agrees with this. “Louis Vuitton is … an active and aggressive enforcer of its trademark rights. In some cases, however, it is better to “accept the implied compliment in [a] parody” and to smile or laugh than it is to sue.” In the Netherlands Louis Vuitton would almost certainly have won the case. Parody may be a defence, but only if there is no financial gain.

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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?