What was supposed to be an event to highlight the fashion law practice area because a fashion law topic itself. The intellectual property group at the University of Pennsylvania Law School decided to host a fashion law symposium, only to receive a cease and desist letter from one of the leading luxury brands in the world. Why would Louis Vuitton feel compelled to kill the fashion law mood? The event flyer did not sit well with MichaelPantalony, the Director of Civil Enforcement for the French fashion house.
While clever in incorporating the symbols for copyright and trademark into the brand's signature monogram, Louis Vuitton argued the event flyer was willful infringement and dilution of the brand's trademarks. How so? The flyer misleads the public into thinking that Louis Vuitton sponsored the event. Furthermore, Louis Vuittoncontended that it would "mislead others into thinking that this type of unlawful activity is somehow 'legal' or constitutes 'fair use' because the Penn Intellectual Property Group is sponsoring a seminar on fashion law and 'must be experts.'" For a fully copy of the cease and desist letter, click here.
Penn Law changed the event flyer to the following:
Nevertheless, the school countered Louis Vuitton's arguments with the following:
- Trademark infringement consists of using a trademark in interstate commerce that is substantially similar to the original trademark and that would likely cause confusion.
- The event flyer not being adopted as a trademark for interstate commerce of goods or service
- There is no likelihood of confusion because the lawyers, law students, and fashion industryexecutives attending the event would not think Louis Vuitton was sponsoring the event
- The event flyer falls within the noncommercial use exception
- The event flyer is fair use as artwork parody, as in the case Louis Vuitton v. Haute Diggity Dog, LLC.
For a fully copy of Penn's response, click here. While both sides present valid arguments, it's clear LouisVuitton's main goal was to make an example of the IP law group.