This is quite a toy. Walmart and other retailers are selling a toy purse, known as the Pooey Puitton Slime Bag ($39.95), that is, shaped like the infamous emoji, and, well, filled with slime. The product is part of a line of products that includes "unicorn poop," which is the colorful slime.
The purpose of the toy and good taste aside, MGA Entertainment, the makers of the Bratz dolls that ended up in years of litigation with Mattel, says that the toy is parody of the luxury brand, Louis Vuitton. As a result, MGA has filed a preemptive suit in federal court against Louis Vuitton seeking protection against an infringement suit by Louis Vuitton. MGA has argued in its complaint that seeks injunctive relief that the Pooey Puitton does not infringe on the Vuitton purse products because no "reasonable consumer" would confuse the toy purse with the Vuitton brand, symbol, and luxury image. Rather, as the complaint argues, the Pooey Puitton is "designed to mock, criticise, and make fun of the wealth and celebrity" generally associated with LV purses and products. The complaint further argues that, "The use of the Pooey name and Pooey product in association with a product line of magical unicorn poop is intended to criticise or comment upon the rich and famous, the Louis Vuitton name, the 'LV' marks, and on their conspicuous consumption."
The purse does not carry the classic interlocking "L" and "V," but it has the recognizable look of an LV product.
The case raises a fascinating legal issue: Can products that parody protected designs of others be subject to the federal protections for copyright and trademark protection? Parody is traditionally protected against copyright infringement as fair use. There is some precedent on product parody. Louis Vuitton lost its suit to stop Chewy Vuitton, a dog toy company, from selling its dog toys with a LV theme. Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A., v. Haute Diggity Dog, LLC, 507 F.3d 252 (4th Cir. 2007). The court held that the dog toys were a parody of LV products, and that there was not likely to be dilution of the LV brand through the sales of the toys.
Explain why the dog toy case and this case may be similar.
Is it fair for a company to capitalize on the brand of another? Should parody be commercially protected?
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