Last week, a Federal District Judge Andrew Carter ruled that this joke does not infringe Louis Vuitton’s trademark as it enjoys protection under the doctrine of fair use. Louis Vuitton brought its lawsuit last year contending that Warner Brothers impermissibly used a third-party’s knock-off bag that allegedly infringes on the LVM Marks, seeking monetary damages. You can tell the Court had fun with this one from this bit of analysis of the offending joke.
Warner Bros.’ use of the Diophy bag meets this low threshold. Alan’s terse remark to Teddy to “[be] [c]areful” because his bag “is a Lewis Vuitton” comes across as snobbish only because the public signifies Louis Vuittonto which the Diophy bag looks confusingly similarwith luxury and a high society lifestyle. (See Compl. ¶ 20.) His remark also comes across as funny because he mispronounces the French “Louis” like the English “Lewis,” and ironic because he cannot correctly pronounce the brand name of one of his expensive possessions, adding to the image of Alan as a socially inept and comically misinformed character. (fn 10)
(fn 10) For example, while at the wedding rehearsal dinner in Thailand, Alan unexpectedly decides to give a toast to Stu, ostensibly to restore his buddy’s good image after the bride’s father relentlessly mocked Stu in front of all the guests by likening him to, among other things, “soft white rice in lukewarm water.” In a complete non sequitur, Alan begins his toast by offering a few “fun facts” about the population and chief exports of Thailand, which he naturally pronounces as “Thigh-land.”
It’s a safe bet that the Court enjoyed the movie.
Read the opinion here.